Van der Spuy launched himself into the limelight when he landed a fairy-tale victory in the Sunshine Tour’s Sun Fish River Sun Challenge on October last year. Less than two months later, he edged out Zander Lombard at the season-finale Alfred Dunhill Championship to win the Sunshine Tour’s Rookie of the Year race.
While it felt great to finish the season on a high, Van der Spuy was a little disappointed to miss the cut at last week’s BMW SA Open Championship.
“I just didn’t play well enough, but I don’t consider missing the cut at Glendower was a complete write-off,” he said.
“The fact is that the co-sanctioned events are on a whole new level and it was a good experience for me. I still got to tee it up in a world-class field; I still experienced the vibe and the atmosphere of the tournament and I still played two rounds of our national championship.
“If I learned anything from my rookie season last year, it’s that you can’t win them all. You also have to learn to roll with the punches.”
Van der Spuy took up a golf scholarship at Troy University in Alabama after matriculating at Durban High School in 2008, but transferred to Columbus State University after two years.
“My proudest moment was being named All American,” he said.
“After I graduated in July 2013, I competed on several mini tours in the South East. I qualified and made the cut for a Web.Com Tour event, won the Web.Com Qualifying School First Stage and made it into the Final Stage before I was cut.
“That’s when I came home. All in, I spent six years in the United States and felt really comfortable out there, but you need to take things step by step if you want to guarantee a long-term career in the paid ranks.
“It’s like climbing a ladder, because it’s all about experience. I cut my teeth on the Sunshine Tour last year. This season, I hope to win a few titles, put myself in contention more often and finish the season high in the Order of Merit. Then it’s probably on to Europe and the co-sanctioned events gives you the chance to play your way onto the European Tour.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, though. My only goal this week is to make the weekend and give my Chase to the Investec Cup ranking a really good boost.”
Van der Spuy feels well prepared to challenge for a cut of the R16.5-million purse on offer.
“We have a huge field – 206 pros – this week, so you need to score well in the first two rounds,” he said. “The West Course is more forgiving, but you will need to keep it in the fairway and hit high quality shots at both courses.
“I know this course well from my amateur days and I had two good practice rounds, so I feel ready for the action to start on Thursday.”