Sunshine Tour professional Ryan Tipping made the upper reaches of the leaderboard in the opening round of the Sun City Challenge, and it didn’t come as easily as it looked.
He fired a five-under-par 67 to trail first-round leader Jake Roos by one in the R600,000 tournament, and, for a man who has won on the Sunshine Tour – he took the SAA Pro-Am Invitational at his home course Randpark in 2009 – he sounded surprised to be in contention.
That’s despite a top-10 result in the opening tournament of the 2013 season, when he came seventh in the Telkom PGA Pro-Am at Centurion in January.
His surprise has much to do with the fact that his previous top-10 finish on the Sunshine Tour came way back in March 2011, when he finished fourth in the Namibian PGA Championship – and the rest of his 2013 year is littered with a litany of missed cuts.
Tipping spoke of the difficulties he’s faced as he has tried to work on changes he’s made to his swing, and shed some light on the ‘trust issues’ that go with such changes – issues that seem beyond the comprehension of average amateur players.
“My swing’s starting to come along well,” he said. “I’ve been working with Neil Cheetham, actually. He’s been helping me with my golf swing. Now I’ve just got to trust it, because I am swinging it a lot better.”
That was an opinion shared by his playing partners Bradford Vaughan and Des Terblanche – two veterans who know a good golf swing when they see one.
“I’ve been struggling for a while, so the trust issue is there,” said Tipping. “I’ve just got to believe in it and I hope it will come.
“The trust thing is a very big deal. On the range, you can kind of get it going and there’s not a lot of pressure. It’s a wide open piece of ground, but on the actual course, your mind tires to play games and it looks at all the trouble before you actually decide what shot you want to hit.
“In the process then, you tense up as your mind plays games. So you’ve got try and talk your way back into the positive. You’ve got to think about what you actually want to do instead of what could go wrong,” he said.
And when a golfer earns his living from his swing, then the whole process becomes even more fraught. “It’s difficult,” laughed Tipping. “To be a professional golfer, you need big balls!”