They say there is never a bad time to make a hole-in-one, but Ruan de SmidtÂs timing during the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Tournament at Simola Golf and Country Estate was simply impeccable.
The Sunshine Tour rookie was a little undecided on the par-three 17th, but pulled out a nine-iron and launched his tee shot in the direction of the pin, 152 meters in the distance. The ball flew true, but pitched in front of the pin and sped past.
ÂThen I watched as it stuck, spun back and just dropped into the bottom of the cup,Â said the 21-year-old Krugersdorp golfer. ÂWhen I saw the ball drop, I was so excited. Now I canÂt even properly remember how it happened. I guess it doesnÂt matter. After all these years playing golf, I finally pulled the right club and nailed my first ace.Â
And the good news kept on coming.
Vodacom Origins of Golf series promoter SAIL sponsor the 17th hole at this event and the leading hospitality provider had put up a prize that nearly had De Smidt doing laps around the putting green.
ÂThe guys from SAIL walked over and they tell me that I won eight VIP tickets to a Springbok rugby test match in South Africa later this year,Â he said. ÂI have never, ever seen the Boks play live. That is going to be awesome, just awesome.Â
And which is better, a hole-in-one or eight VIP tickets in hand?
ÂI really canÂt say which one is the greater prize, because itÂs really a toss-up,Â he said. ÂRight now IÂm thrilled with getting my first ace but in September, when IÂm watching the Boks play Australia at Loftus with my mates, IÂll probably think winning the tickets was way better. Jeez, can you imagine how many friends IÂll have when this news gets out?Â
De SmidtÂs ace also lifted his score to an opening four-under-par 68, leaving him two off the pace with 36 holes to play.
This yearÂs Vodacom Origins of Golf series has been dubbed ÂThe Goose ChaseÂ in honour of two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen. De Smidt said, seeing GoosenÂs image on posters and the like spread around the clubhouse and golf course, is a real inspiration.
ÂGoose is a class act and it would be brilliant to win my first tournament here at this first Goose Chase event,Â he said. ÂIÂm just two behind with loads of golf still to come. ThatÂs where my focus is right now. I would love to break through for my first win in the first tournament of The Goose Chase. ÂItÂs still early in the season and it would do a lot for my confidence.Â
By Lali Stander