Big Easy Tour gives amateur Smith taste of pro golf

George amateur Shaun Smith had every reason to be pleased with a share of 18th in last week’s Sunshine Big Easy Tour event at Glendower Golf Club.

The 19-year-old received entry to the Glendower field from the Sunshine Tour after he won the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation Championship just six weeks prior, shooting rounds of seven-under par 65 and two-under par 70 to take the tournament at nine-under par.

He joined the field of 80 professionals in the Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage as they competed for their share of R100,000.

Glenwood House’s 2010 head prefect, Smith felt the difference as soon as he arrived at Glendower. “They’ve got all the signs and the banners and the boards – you don’t see that in amateur events,” he said.

Round one revealed to him the difficulty level of professional golf, with pin and tee placements demanding a thinking game in which correct club selection and course management are crucial.

An eagle, two birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey on his scorecard told the story of his battle with the 6,914-metre course which has hosted the SA Open in its past and is widelty regarded as one of the best tests of golf in the country.

Smith finished the day at two-over par 74, his short game suffering on the speedy greens as he failed to capitalise on eagle chances on four of the five par-five holes.

Day two, and the front nine saw a shaky start of bogeys on the first and fifth holes, but Smith overcame early nerves and recovered with birdies on the sixth and the eighth. “We can look at it as a pro tournament, but when you tee it up it’s just another round of golf, you just try to do your best,” he said.

The Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation champion finished day two at one-over-par for a total of three-over for the tournament, behind winner Albert Pistorius who finished at 11-under-par.

Playing with the pros has inspired the promising youngster, who plans to play at qualifying school at the end of the year. “It was a really great opportunity, and I would just like to thank the Big Easy Tour Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation,” he said.

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