Ruan de Smidt is nicknamed ‘hands’ because of his affinity for short-game play, which will be crucial this week at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club, the shortest course on the Sunshine Tour circuit and host of this week’s Lombard Insurance Classic.
The 2012 Qualifying School winner tied for second in Swaziland last year, where a host of short-game specialists made the top five. It will take similar accuracy from 100 metres and less this week, but that’s the forte of De Smidt, who won the 2012 Suncoast Classic in his rookie year.
At Royal Swazi Sun last year he could not chase down Christiaan Basson, who fired a superlative 62 during the final round for a five-shot victory. The runner-up did, however, shoot rounds of 67, 71, 64 to finish the tournament on 14-under-par and shared second with Adilson da Silva, Neil Schietekat, and Jake Redman.
De Smidt has come into some form recently and tied for 14th place at the Investec Royal Swazi Open a fortnight ago. In the past three years his worst finish on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit has been 31st, and his current position of 53rd indicates that some good golf is due from the 25-year-old.
He’s missed three cuts in eight starts this season and battled to make it count when he does reach the weekend, but a return to Swaziland could very well spark the turnaround point for a player who has all the talent needed to win.