THINK YOUNG PLAY HARD

Ruan de Smidt.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Barry Havenga

ON THE FAM­ILY GAME

The en­tire fam­ily played golf while I was grow­ing up. My fa­ther Derek has been the pro at Krugers­dorp GC for over 20 years and he taught my­self and younger brother Darin (21) ev­ery­thing we know about the game. My mother Cindy played and has been a tremen­dous sup­porter of our ca­reers. Darin is mak­ing the next step now, hav­ing en­tered the Sun­shine Tour Qual­i­fy­ing School in March.

ON SIB­LING RI­VALRY

Darin and I play a great deal to­gether. He is at an age where he has stopped lis­ten­ing to my dad, so I help him with his game too.We have a R50 note that the win­ner keeps with our names writ­ten all over it. He has great com­po­sure in com­pet­i­tive play, ex­cept when we play against each other. He gets ex­tremely up­set when he loses to his big brother (laughs).

ON THE PRES­SURE OF CO-SANC­TIONED EVENTS

My record in the Euro­pean Tour co­sanc­tioned events is not good enough – I re­ally need a top-10 to es­tab­lish my­self more as a ‘sum­mer tour’ player. I’ve only had two top-20 fin­ishes in these events in five years on tour. In 2017 I will be at­tempt­ing to not over­think things and just let it hap­pen. It’s so im­por­tant to play well in these events. Even mak­ing the cut is cru­cial be­cause of the prize money avail­able. But if you start think­ing about the money it’s easy to go back­wards on the week­end.

ON A FOR­TU­NATE TRADE

I had a hole-in-one on the 17th at Si­mola dur­ing a Vo­da­com Ori­gins of Golf event in May 2012, win­ning VIP tick­ets to a Spring­boks / Wal­la­bies test at Lof­tus Vers­feld. But I was able to trade the tick­ets for an in­vite into an­other tour event – I had to pre-qual­ify for some tour­na­ments in my rookie year. That ul­ti­mately got me into the Sun­coast Clas­sic at Dur­ban Coun­try Club in Oc­to­ber – which I won!

ON PLAY­ING A YEL­LOW BALL

Titch Moore and Wal­lie Coet­see are the only other Sun­shine Tour play­ers who use Srixon’s Tour Yel­low ball, so it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult for any of us to play the wrong ball! I’ve used it for seven years and would find it dif­fi­cult to go back to a white ball. I

would def­i­nitely walk right past it in the fair­way.

ON THE ETER­NAL QUEST FOR CON­FI­DENCE

On tour, you can hit the ball well for long pe­ri­ods of time with­out re­ward. When con­fi­dence is low there is noth­ing harder than try­ing to play tour­na­ment golf.When I’m strug­gling I try to play more ag­gres­sively – which the tour’s stats con­firm. So far this sea­son (2016-17) I’ve made the most birdies (337 from 77 rounds), 50 more than the next best player (Chris Swanepoel).

ON NOT WIN­NING AS AN AM­A­TEUR

I’ve had a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing things. My path to be­ing a pro­fes­sional was unique in that I never won a pro­vin­cial tour­na­ment as an am­a­teur, de­spite be­ing capped for South Africa a few times. I only ever won the club cham­pi­onship at Krugers­dorp. But I en­tered Q School at the end of 2011, and won that at Schoeman Park (by four shots from Danie van Ton­der, who pipped De Smidt for Rookie of the Year hon­ours in 2012). I then won again in Oc­to­ber of my rookie sea­son (at Dur­ban CC). I don’t have an ex­pla­na­tion for it but I’m proud of win­ning four times on tour at age 27.

ON THE ONE RULE HE WOULD CHANGE

I like the fact that the Sun­shine Tour has fol­lowed the Euro­pean Tour in al­low­ing us to wear shorts in prac­tice rounds. I would vote yes to be­ing able to use range find­ers in tour­na­ment play. But the rule that has to change is be­ing al­lowed to tap down spike marks on the green.

De Smidt has four Sun­shine Tour vic­to­ries after win­ning twice in 2016.

Darin, Derek and Ruan de Smidt at Krugers­dorp Golf Club, Novem­ber 2016.

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