THINK YOUNG PLAY HARD
Ruan de Smidt.
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.