Port Elizabeth - Ruan de
Smidt goes into the defence of his Sun Boardwalk Challenge title at Humewood
Golf Club this week hoping his putting has turned a corner.
The R750 000
54-hole tournament gets underway on Wednesday, and De Smidt will have memories
of his putting making it difficult for him to hold off a charging Tyrone
Ferreira by a single stroke in last year's event.
putted terribly today," he said last year of a victory which might have been
more decisive. "I had 33 putts which is never great, but I hit it nicely."
It's more of
the same this week for him.
"I haven't been scoring really well," he said. "The
putts are just not going in, but I putted a bit yesterday and it felt really
He will be
somewhat encouraged by his performances in the last two Sunshine Tour events.
In the first four of six consecutive events played in coastal and windy
conditions, he missed the cut in the first two, but finished in a share of 27th
and 28th in the last two.
the Humewood wind well last year.
"The weather last year was really tough, and
I played nicely in tougher conditions - not so much this year so far," he said. "I hope I'm gradually getting used to tougher conditions again.
hitting my irons well but my driver has just been shocking. If you can hit
driver straight around here, it makes the course a lot easier. I hit it nicely
in the last round last week, so I hope that gives me the confidence I need
going into this week.
the game to play in the wind, or in still conditions, so I'm not really trying
to practice towards something specifically - I'm just practicing to be better.
If it's windy this week, I've just got to hit it lower."
He will find
plenty of players willing and able to take him on as he attempts to defend his
title. Players like Jared Harvey, who took his maiden Sunshine Tour title at
Zimbali a fortnight ago, relish playing in the challenging conditions Humewood
runner-up Ferreira always seems to play well in Port Elizabeth, and players
like Jake Roos, Ockie Strydom and Oliver Bekker have been in great form on the
2017/18 Sunshine Tour. Any of them can halt De Smidt in his tracks.
however, has a long term aim, and he won't get sidetracked from it.
building up to the European Tour Qualifying School, so I need to try and find
some form," he said.
"I need to grind it out and try and compete with the guys
on top of the leaderboard, because I haven't been in contention for a while
tournament tees off at 06:45 on Wednesday.