As Ruan de Smidt wound down from his opening round of six-under-par 64 in the Wild Waves Golf Challenge, the Krugersdorp resident revealed he had more than a little local knowledge in his favour.
“My parents have got a house in Margate just up the road,” he said, “so when we come on holiday, we always play here – five out of seven days, actually.”
That kind of intimacy with the 5,807-metre par-70 Wild Coast Sun Country Club certainly gives him an edge in the 54-hole R600,000 Sunshine Tour tournament, and it showed as he reeled off four birdies in a row from the 12th to the 15th after starting on the 10th. He bogeyed 15, but made three more birdies on his way to a three-way share of the first round lead with Oliver Bekker and Christiaan Basson.
De Smidt, 23, won the Suncoast Classic last year in his rookie season for his maiden Sunshine Tour title, and he has four top-10s on the 2013 Sunshine Tour. He came closest to a second victory with his second-place finish behind James Kingston in the Investec Royal Swazi Open in May.
He missed the cut in last week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Langebaan, but he feels comfortable on a course he knows well this week.
“I always enjoy playing here,” he said. He popped a five-under 65 in his second round in last year’s event, sandwiched between a 72 and a 71 on his way to a share of 21st. So his 64 was his best round as a pro on the course.
“I hit the ball well at Langebaan,” he said. “I just putted terribly. I’ve put my old putter back in the bag, and it obviously worked today.”