Ruan de Smidt carded a six-under-par 66 in round one of the Sun Carnival City Challenge at Ebotse Golf and Country Estate to take a one-stroke lead over Chistiaan Basson and Jacques Kruyswijk.
De Smidt has been in fearsome form of late with five top-10 finishes in his last nine starts on tour and another solid showing on day one certainly gets him thinking about a first win since the 2015 Nedbank Affinity Cup.
‘The last couple of weeks have been good. Luckily today I kept on with the good from and hopefully I can keep it going for the next two days. Getting a win would be fantastic but it’s a day by day experience out here.’ he said.
Pros around the world don’t often get the chance to play a links style golf course and de Smidt was in high spirits after grabbing the opportunity to play well around Ebotse Links.
‘It’s a links course in Joburg which is quite cool. I don’t think we have a lot of these so it’s really fun to play. You’ve got to hit it pretty straight out there and the greens are unbelievable so if you’re putting half-decent you’ll make some putts,’ he explained.
Known as one of the longer hitters on tour, de Smidt adopts a game plan around Ebotse Links to keep his ball in play.
‘There is a lot of danger out there. There are a lot of holes here you have to hit a two iron off the tee, maybe even a four iron off the tee just to keep it in play. It’s not playing very long so you can hit those irons off the tee. You’ve just got to hit it straight and keep it out those bunkers and the long rough,’ he said.
Like Basson, Kruyswijk didn’t drop a shot in his opening five-under 67, and the man from Pretoria was happy with his round one outing.
‘I didn’t really see the conditions this morning but I do feel the greens firmed out quite a lot in the afternoon. That made it a little but tough, speed wise. Other than that I think it was pretty even playing conditions,’ explained Kruyswijk, who dealt with the afternoon conditions.
Mark Williams, Chris Swanepoel and Derick Petersen carded four-under-par 68s to share fourth place, while eight others are tied at seventh on three-under-par.
66 – Ruan de Smidt
67 – Christiaan Basson, Jacques Kruyswijk
68 – Mark Williams, Chris Swanepoel, Derick Petersen
69 – Vaughn Groenewald, Peter Karmis, Jacques Blaauw, Tyrone Mordt, Gert Myburgh, Jonathan Agren, Colin Nel, Jason Froneman