Ris­ing with Con­fi­dence

Backed by a fierce work ethic, Jac­ques Kruyswijk looks for a break­out year in 2017.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life - By Barry Havenga

ON MAK­ING GOLF A PRO­FES­SION

I’m proud to say that I’m one of the hard­est work­ers on tour. I take it very se­ri­ously. I’m not out there to make friends and have a good time – I’m there to be the best ath­lete I can be and win tour­na­ments. I’ve sac­ri­ficed a lot, in­clud­ing re­la­tion­ships, to achieve my goals and will do what­ever it takes to keep im­prov­ing.

ON A RU­RAL UP­BRING­ING

I grew up on a farm in Louis Trichardt in the Far North where my fam­ily bred horses and cat­tle. I was 13 when I started play­ing golf at the Koro Creek es­tate in Modi­molle (Nyl­stroom) and quickly pro­gressed to rep­re­sent­ing Lim­popo in their pro­vin­cial teams. I wasn’t able to travel to that many am­a­teur events around the coun­try, but I was grate­ful when those op­por­tu­ni­ties came.

ON LEARN­ING FROM A LOSS

In the Vo­da­com Ori­gins event at Vaal de Grace in 2015 I opened with rounds of 66 and 63 to lead Jean Hugo by two shots through 36 holes. I shot 67 in the fi­nal round to fin­ish on 20-un­der-par, and still lost by one. Jean shot 64. At the time the de­feat was tough to take, but it ended up be­ing a valu­able learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I might not have held my nerve so well com­ing down the stretch at Royal Cape (in the Cape Town Open) had it not been for mem­o­ries of that day atVaal de Grace.

ON THE IM­POR­TANCE OF PA­TIENCE

I have al­ways been hard on my­self in this game. I got frus­trated be­cause I wasn’t get­ting the re­sults I wanted from all the work I was putting in. I started see­ing sports

psy­chol­o­gist Maretha Claasen 18 months ago, and she has taught me that golf is a process. It takes time to ma­ture as a pro­fes­sional, and I am men­tally tougher be­cause of her guid­ance.

ON TURN­ING HIS BACK ON AM­A­TEUR GOLF

In early 2011 I was ranked within the top 8 of the SA Golf As­so­ci­a­tion rank­ings and reached the semi­fi­nals of the SA Am­a­teur at Vaal de Grace, but was not se­lected for the na­tional team. It was ac­tu­ally a bless­ing, be­cause it made me more de­ter­mined to prove peo­ple wrong. I de­cided to start play­ing IGT events to test my­self against pro­fes­sion­als, and that made me bet­ter pre­pared for when I turned pro.

ON BE­ING BLOWN AWAY BY STORM

In Jan­uary I played the first two rounds of the SA Open with even­tual cham­pion Graeme Storm.At some stage dur­ing the sec­ond round I said to my cad­die that this guy is go­ing to win the tour­na­ment. I played de­cently and signed for a 69, but only re­alised that Graeme had shot 63 when I signed his card. He hadn’t hit the ball bet­ter than me, but his phe­nom­e­nal short game out­classed me. It was an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of how an ex­pe­ri­enced Euro­pean Tour pro man­ages his game – and of where I need to be in the fu­ture.

ON AN­I­MALS HOLD­ING UP PLAY

I’ve had two amus­ing ex­pe­ri­ences where an­i­mals have dis­rupted my round. In a so­cial round at Koro Creek, when I was an am­a­teur, a puff adder came out of the bush and slith­ered into the back of our golf cart where the clubs were stored.We aban­doned the round and a snake-han­dler had to be called to re­store or­der. At the 2014 Ned­bank Affin­ity Cup at Lost City a mon­key nabbed my pro-am part­ner’s phone from the cart. We chased it into thick bush, even­tu­ally re­triev­ing the de­vice, but caus­ing a 30-minute de­lay.

Jac­ques Kruyswijk signs a cap for a young fan af­ter win­ning the Cape Town Open.

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