Myeki inspired to dream big in golf and life

Ernie Els’s role as a mentor to South Africa’s golfers was evident again when his words to Branden Grace during a cup of coffee inspired Grace to a maiden PGA Tour victory. This week a young golfer from an East London township who benefits from Els’s support will keep trying to achieve her own goals when she tees it up in the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Westlake Golf Club.

Since joining the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation in 2010, 22-year-old Zethu Myeki has in the past year-and-a-half really started to climb the rankings. She’s currently ranked third in the country after an impressive 2015 season and then a start to 2016 where she’s finished second in the Eastern Province Championship and third in the Border Championship.

Last year she was tied sixth in the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play, and this time she’s hoping to seriously challenge the top-ranked players such as defending champion and SA number one Ivanna Samu, Kaleigh Telfer, Woo-Ju Son, Cara Gorlei and others.

But beyond her golf, it’s been Myeki’s growth as a person that has most impressed those close to her, including herself.

Growing up in the East London township of Mdantsane, Myeki and her mother were supported by her three brothers who are all taxi drivers. Her father passed away from a stroke when she was 14.

But she found an outlet in golf.

“Coming home from school one day I saw some girls hitting golf balls in a local soccer field. I was scared to ask them about it. But one of the girls was in class with me and she told me to join them. Now I’m the only one of those girls who still plays,” she says.

“As a family we didn’t have money but we could survive. Losing my father was very tough. We were very close. But it happens. It’s life.”

She was discovered by the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation and through this as well as the Eastern Cape Academy of Sport was introduced to her mentor, Melonie Gobel, who does care work in the community there.

Gobel has had a significant impact on Myeki’s life.

“We work so well together and she really understands me. We talk about everything. Even when I’m going to play a tournament I talk to her about what I’m feeling. Golf is a mental game and you’ve got to be strong mentally, and Melonie helps me with this. I’m not there yet but I’m getting there slowly. I believe more in myself. I have confidence. I sometimes have doubts but most of the time I try to be positive about everything.”

It could all come together for Myeki at this Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship, which tees off on Sunday.

But the young golfer has bigger dreams as well.

“I’m going to start studying Business Administration this year. I’ve learnt that in order to achieve you have to work very hard and go for it. Never allow people to tell you that you can’t. If you want something, go for it.”

Written by Michael Vlismas on behalf of Sanlam.

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