For the first time in his career Ruan de Smidt led a professional golf tournament, and it was during the second round of the R1,5-million Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club.
ÂThis is a very different feeling for me. ItÂs the first tournament where IÂm into contention as a pro and IÂve never been up there, so weÂll have to see how it goes this weekend,Â he said.
The 22-year-old rookie made his way round in a cool 65 strokes to head into the weekend at nine-under-par, tied for the top spot with Trevor Fisher, Jnr.
ÂThings worked for me on the back nine, I just hit it really solid,Â said De Smidt. ÂI hit it close and made 16 greens today, so I was striking it well, putting wasnÂt bad, made a couple, so it helps.Â
He enjoyed success at the Africa Open in January after a third-round 67 moved him to tied 13th, but struggled around in 77 on the final day. Despite the slip he felt confident, largely due to his constant participation in the Big Easy Tour, where he has finished in the top 10 at all three events this season.
ÂThe Big Easy has given me a lot of confidence. IÂve always had slow starts on the Big Easy Tour, but IÂve gone on from there. I think that has given me a lot of confidence this week Â yesterday I had a terrible start, but I came back on the back nine in 32 Â I had the confidence to stay calm.Â
Fisher, who shares the halfway lead at nine-under, set the benchmark with a superb seven-under-par 65 on day two. He felt that minimizing mistakes was the key to success, and said: ÂI went up and down for par a few times today, which keep the momentum going. I only made two bogeys today, and otherwise it was good.Â
He made an impressive eagle at the sixth after his ball bounced out of a fairway bunker and onto the short grass. ÂI hit a three-wood from the fairway to about four metres. I chipped in from there, which always gets you going,Â he said.
De Smidt was not going to let his lead slip, and said, ÂIÂm just going to try and hit as many greens as I can, make a couple of putts and hopefully pull it off. IÂm just going to try to finish top 10, but a win will be great, so IÂm going to stick to what IÂve been doing now.Â