April 2016

Zethu inspired to dream big

Zethu Myeki in full swing. Credit: Carl Fourie

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 at the RBC Heritage this month. Els is also playing a big role in developing more top young golfers in the country through the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EEFF).

One young golfer who benefits from his support is 22-year-old Zethu Myeki. Since being accepted into the EEFF in 2010 her game has improved tremendously, and the East London golfer 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 a start to 2016 where she's finished second in the Eastern Province Championship and third in the Border Championship.

Last year she also tied sixth in the Sanlam SA Women's Amateur Stroke Play.

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.

"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."

And one day 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. That was her introduction to the game through a programme run by the SAGDB.

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."

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."