He won in his first year as a professional on the Sunshine Tour, and Ruan de Smidt is now in search of a third victory to add to his resume as he tees off in Thursday’s R700,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen Golf and Country Club.
A win as a rookie takes some doing, and De Smidt followed that 2012 win with another last year, in Novembers Nedbank Affinity Cup. His recent form suggests he is going to be in the mix when the 54-hole tournament draws to a close on Saturday.
He’s had three top-10s in his last five starts on the Sunshine Tour, with his most recent a share of second in the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge on 24 August. He had a tournament in which he kept round with a high score off his card for the week as he signed for three consecutive rounds under 70 – in the two events in which he didn’t finish in the top 10, he had a round of 78 in one, and all three rounds over 72 in the other.
The run of good form has helped the 26-year-old to 28th on the 2016 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit after 15 tournaments, a position higher than his best ever performance of 29th in 2013.
The last time the Sunshine Tour played a tournament at Sishen – the corresponding Vodacom Origins of Golf event there in 2012 – De Smidt was in his rookie season, and finished in a share of 15th on two-under-par behind the winner Trevor Fisher Jnr.
He was also behind Danie van Tonder, who finished fourth, and with whom he was involved in a tight tussle for the Bobby Locke Trophy for the Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year. They should both be in contention at Sishen again this year, and both of them have victory in their sights.