Ruan de Smidt took his second Sunshine Tour title in three weeks on Saturday as he carded a three-under-par 69 to win the R700,000 Sun Boardwalk Challenge at Humewood Golf Club.
He overcame two bogeys in his opening three holes, and made five birdies in the rest of his round to edge out Tyrone Ferreira who shot a five-under 67 by one stroke. Danie van Tonder was in third place after he signed for a two-under 70, and he was a further shot back.
‘My game has felt like it has been in the right place for the last six or seven weeks,’ said De Smidt, ‘and luckily for me, I’ve won twice in the last three.’ In fact, it was his eighth top-10 of the season, and his sixth in his last seven tournaments.
He must have wondered whether it was going to turn out that way when he dropped those two early shots, but he had scored really well around the turn and on the back nine in the preceding two rounds. He picked up one of the dropped shots on the fourth hole, and the second on the eighth, and three birdies in the last five holes down the stretch clinched it for him.
‘I just putted terribly today,’ he said of a victory which might have been more decisive. ‘I had 33 putts which is never great, but I hit it nicely – especially on the back nine where I had a lot of birdie opportunities. I’m just happy that I fought back after those first two holes.’
As he stepped up onto the 18th tee, he had seen a leaderboard on 17 and it told him he was two shots clear – but, up ahead of him, Ferreira had made a fine birdie on 18 and De Smidt was not aware of it. ‘I just played my approach on 18 for the front edge,’ he said, ‘and then I saw that Tyrone had finished 12-under. I had left myself quite a lot of work.’
De Smidt played the final round paired with Van Tonder, and, until De Smidt eased clear towards the end of the round, they were locked in the kind of struggle which was reminiscent of their clashes as rookies. ‘I think that’s the first time I’ve come out on top in a clash with him,’ laughed De Smidt. ‘It’s fun playing with Danie. He’s very competitive and we both bring out the best in each other.’
The win lifted him inside the top 20 of the 2016 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, to 17th spot, and his current form sets him up beautifully ahead of the summer season. He’s won four times on the Sunshine Tour, and his recent form suggests he is going to be a contender in the big-money events towards the end of the year and in early 2017.