Sunshine Tour

SA golfer Ruan de Smidt hopes to shake off poor form: 'I didn't know if I could carry on'

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South African golfer Ruan de Smidt
South African golfer Ruan de Smidt
Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour
  • South African golfer Ruan de Smidt has been on the Sunshine Tour circuit for 10 years and hasn't had the success he looked destined to achieve.
  • Speaking to Sport24, De Smidt opens up over losing his passion for the game after his father's death.
  • However, De Smidt is confident that he can turn his career around as he looks to get himself ready for the busy Sunshine Tour season ahead.

South African golfer Ruan de Smidt admits that he nearly gave up after 10 years on the Sunshine Tour but is fighting to get back into the winner's circle.

Being a Sunshine Tour professional is never easy, and with the boundless talent coming through the system, winning is tougher than many expect.

That's the case for De Smidt, who has been on the Tour for 10 years and only has four Sunshine Tour titles to his name, including winning the Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year title in 2012.

His last Sunshine Tour win came in 2016, where he won two titles (Sun Carnival City Challenge and Sun Boardwalk Challenge), but since then, it's been a dry spell for the Krugersdorp-golfer.

Then there's a financial aspect. Since Covid-19 struck, the Sunshine Tour slowly came back, but it was a tough period with golf courses closed for 77 days in 2020.

Despite the Sunshine Tour's return in August 2020, De Smidt struggled to get back into the swing of things and missed 11 cuts from 17 events.

"Covid-19 affected my game massively, there weren't many competitions and I wasn't making the money I usually used to," Smidt told Sport24 at the Sunshine Tour Media Challenge at Serengeti Estates.

"It was a difficult period, things just weren't going my way and it was frustrating."

Despite being a veteran on the Sunshine Tour for a decade, De Smidt is not sponsored by any brand and struggles financially to stay afloat on the Tour.

In 2020/21 season, De Smidt only won R69 061 from 11 and 2021/22 season R62 190 after missing 15 cuts in 19 events.

"It's been a tough few years, I lost my dad and with his passing, I didn't know if I could carry on and kind of lost that drive to keep playing," said Smidt.

"It was a tough period for me, I didn't want to play anymore and I was thinking, 'Should I get another job?' 'Should I rather just get a job that'll pay me regularly?' The passion wasn't there anymore."

But now, De Smidt is feeling good and with the encouragement of his family, he is looking to overcome the mental struggles.

"I've been feeling pretty good these last few weeks, I feel good and my shot selection has improved a lot more," said Smidt.

"My family has helped me a lot through these difficult times. They've given me hope where I could have easily said goodbye to my playing career. I love golf and playing on the Tour, and I needed to be reminded of it. I had the support and backing of my family, even though I had the dry spell for a few years now."

There's a month break on the Sunshine Tour before it resumes on 28-30 July with the Eswatini Nkonyeni Challenge in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

For the time being, De Smidt will hone his skills and keep his competitive nature as he'll tee off in the Big Easy Tour (BET) leading up to the Sunshine Tour's return.

"Ja, I'll be playing in some of the Big Easy Tour tournaments before the first Sunshine Tour event in Swaziland," said Smidt.

"I'm feeling really good and I've been playing solid, so I'll be using those BET events to kind of build on what is going to be a pretty busy and exciting Sunshine Tour calendar."

De Smidt, currently ranked 1785 in the world golf rankings, took part in this week's R150 000 BET event at Randpark Golf Club, where he finished tied for 13th.

But being on the Sunshine Tour does bring opportunities for players like Smidt.

The Sunshine Tour has a strong alliance with the DP World Tour and Challenge Tour as they co-sanction several events in South Africa, including the Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open Championship.

"There's a lot of opportunities for us as players on the Sunshine Tour and it's great to kind of know you're in with a shot to possibly play on the DP World Tour or even Challenge Tour," said Smidt.

"I've tried obviously to qualify for various tours and I know you just need one good week in one of those tournaments to change everything."

Smidt still believes he has what it takes to win once again on the Sunshine Tour.

"I've been hitting the ball well and I'm looking and feeling really good ahead of what's going to be a busy rest of the year," he said.

"I know I have the ability to win, I just need to rock up on the day and stick to my game plan and hopefully get over the line. But yes, I believe I can win again, it's just about luck being on my side."

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