De Smidt hits his stride at Shirley Open
South Africa’s Ruan de Smidt shot to a share of sixth in the second round of the United Fisheries Shirley Open in New Zealand after blazing the par-72 layout at Christchurch Golf Club in six-under-par 66.
On a day of hot scoring in Christchurch, De Smidt climbed 28 spots to finish just half a dozen shots adrift of New Zealand professional Scott Hill, who fired a second 67 to lead at the halfway point.
He shares the leading amateur honours with New Zealand’s Tyler Hodge.
In his two loops of 33, the country’s number two amateur dropped just one shot at the second hole, offset by an eagle-three at the first, a pair of birdies at the fourth and fifth holes and another brace of birdies at the 12th and 13th.
“I am really enjoying New Zealand but the weather hasn’t been great,” said the 21-year-old from Johannesburg.
“I’m enjoying this course and I am pleased with how I played today – I didn’t make any mistakes all day and it gets me up there. I am just hoping for another two more good rounds to be in contention.”
The other three South Africans also showed improvement.
Reigning SA Amateur Stroke Play champion Jared Harvey bettered his opening 73 with a flawless two-under-par 70, bookended by birdies at the first and 18th.
Brandon Stone had three bogeys and a double, but retaliated with four birdies to shave a shot off his opening 74, while Haydn Porteous joined Stone on three-over-par 147 with a second round 72, three shots better than his opening gambit.
“It was certainly a better performance all round from our players,” said South African Golf Association’s Executive Director Bruce Younge.
“Ruan played to his true potential and it was good to see the putts finally start to drop, especially the short distance putts.
“Haydn was just top class from tee to green, but he still lacks confidence with the putter. He had 10 putts in the first four holes which included a birdie at his opening hole. At the 11th he had four putts for a double bogey and three putts from three meters for a bogey at the 13th.
“His putting did improve as the round wore on, but he is still shaky on the shorter putts, especially those under two metes.”
Younge said it was disappointing to see Stone struggle, especially after solid performance at the Four Nations Cup last week, while Harvey seems to have recovered from his bout of flu and was the picture of consistency.
“I’m delighted that all four made the cut,” said Younge. “This has been a great experience for our players and its great that they will have two more rounds to test themselves against New Zealand’s top young professionals and amateurs.
“Let’s hope they keep climbing the leaderboard over the weekend.”
LEADING SECOND SCORES
Amateurs indicated with (a)
135 Scott Hill NZ 68 67
137 Richard Lee NZ 69 68
139 Mahal Pearce NZ 69 70, Nick Gillespie NZ 68 71
140 Jim Cusdin NZ 71 69
141 Ruan De Smidt (a) RSA 75 66, Tyler Hodge (a) 74 67, Jordan Dasler NZ 71 70, Pieter Zwart NZ 70 71
142 Vaughan McCall (a) NZ 76 66, Fraser Wilkin (a) NZ 74 68, Andrew Henare (NZ) 72 70, Owen Burgess (a) NZ 71 71
143 Jared Harvey (a) RSA 73 70, Peter Spearman Burn (NZ) 72 71, Jason McIntosh (NZ) 71 72, Troy Ropiha (NZ) 70 73, Alex Tait (NZ) 70 73
144 Dominic Barson (NZ) 76 68, James Devlin (a) NZ 74 70, Tim Leonard (a) NZ 73 71, Mathew Perry (a) NZ 72 72, Ryan Chisnall (a) NZ 71 73, Steven Han (a) NZ 70 74
145 Shaun Jones (a) NZ 74 71, Mark Boe (NZ) 74 71, Anthony Doyle (NZ) 71 74, Jonathon Ratcliffe NZ (a) 71 74
147 Brandon Stone (a) RSA 74 73; Haydn Porteous (a) 75 72