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24th November 2023

Rama ready to step into Joburg Open history

Nikhil Rama started playing golf because he felt left out as a young boy walking the fairways with his dad, uncles and cousins who played the game. The 22-year-old South African will now go into the weekend of the Joburg Open with a one-stroke lead. And he certainly doesn’t feel left out anymore.

In another of the many golf fairytales in Joburg Open history, Rama shot his lowest competitive round as a professional – a bogey-free 62 – on Friday to lead this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event on 13 under par.

His nearest challenger is former champion Thriston Lawrence one shot back following a 66. Dean Burmester added a 62 of his own to join Jacques Kruyswijk (64) right in the hunt just three shots off the lead.

But at the moment, this is all Rama’s story.

Raised in Johannesburg, Rama found his way to this point in his career via family golf, then playing SA Kids Golf tournaments and representing Central Gauteng and competing in GolfRSA events before turning professional in 2020.

“I wasn’t much of a junior golfer, then I started working with Hendrik Buhrmann and my golf really started to improve in 2019. I turned pro and thought let’s see what happens,” he says.

The Sunshine Tour, recognising his talent, made him a member of their Papwa Sewgolum Class for transformation players on Tour, and this season has been a breakout one for Rama as he’s had six top-10s including fourth in the recent Vodacom Origins of Golf Final which secured him a place in the Joburg Open – a tournament which has always reserved place in its field for transformation golfers. Investec, a patron of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, has also awarded Rama a sponsor’s invitation to compete in next week’s Investec South African Open.

So it’s not hard to see how this weekend represents a potentially life-changing moment for Rama. As it was for Lawrence when he broke through here in 2021 and Dan Bradbury when he did the same in 2022.

And judging by his golf on Friday – six birdies and a magnificent eagle two on the third of this par-70 course which his caddie Shannon knows extremely well – he’s absolutely ready for it.

“What can I say – I’m just really excited. I’m enjoying the pressure and the fans, and just trying to have fun. It will obviously be a little different being in the final group on Saturday. But I’ll play some Fortnite with friends tonight and we’ll see how it goes on Saturday.”

This weekend, the boy who once felt left out could become the man who finds a new home in world golf.