Ruan de Smidt shot an impressive 69 at Sishen Golf Club on Tuesday, claiming one of 10 pre-qualifying places available for the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament, which starts Wednesday.
ÂIÂve been hitting it really well over the last two tournaments. It would be great to win this week, and it feels like IÂm hitting it well enough. If I can make a couple more putts IÂll definitely be up there,Â he said.
The rookie came first at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and has never looked back, taking three top 20s and making seven cuts during the year.
Currently second to Danie van Tonder in the Rookie of the Year Race, De Smidt was excited about the chance to earn another cheque.
ÂDanie is way ahead, so IÂll probably need a win here to catch him,Â said De Smidt. ÂIÂm looking forward to the week and I think I can really do well at this course. Hopefully with a top-10 in one of the co-sanctioned events later in the year I can catch up in the Rookie Race.
ÂI enjoyed the greens today, especially after coming from the coast. The greens here are a bit easier for me, and hopefully that helps. I feel confident that if I make a couple of putts I can go very low.Â
Reaching the clubhouse one stroke back was Divan Gerber, who felt good after coming home with two birdies and an eagle over the final five holes. It was the type of recovery which takes mental strength to pull off, especially since he carded a seven at the par-five 11th.
ÂI had a good tournament at Wild Waves, although I finished quite badly, so I need to work on that. ItÂs a mental thing where I start to think ahead. I made some disaster stuff today, but I finished well. ThatÂs a mental booster and it brings some confidence in, because I turned it around today,Â he said.
Joining him at two-under-par was SishenÂs club professional Maurice Prinsloo. His local knowledge helped and his game was hot around the 6,450-metre track, thanks to plenty of preparation.
ÂTwo-under is a really good score. ItÂs my first time and IÂm so happy that I made it. IÂve got a home-course advantage, so IÂm going to give it my all this week.
ÂI prepared hard for this. Every day I was on the course playing off the back tees and I tried all types of shots. I even started going to the gym!Â he said.