De Smidt takes Route 66 to KZN Open victory

The two things that define Darin de Smidt – a great set of pearly whites and a beaming smile – were both on display as the lanky Krugersdorp amateur walked up to receive the KwaZulu-Natal Open trophy at San Lameer Country Club on Sunday.

De Smidt carded rounds of 69 and 66 to claim a three stroke victory on nine under 135 over Tristen Strydom and David Meyers.

“I guess a provincial victory and getting one up on your older brother will do that to a guy,” jested the 20-year-old. “I couldn’t stop smiling. Up to this point, the most special moment of my golf career was being on Ruan’s bag when he won the Nedbank Affinity Cup on the Sunshine Tour.

“It was so great to be there to share it with him, but I’m sorry bro, this tops that. Ruan never won an amateur event that counted for world ranking points. It feels pretty good to have beaten him at this. We are highly competitive and always trying to outdo each other, but this is so much better than taking his money in a social game.”

The championship was scheduled for 72 holes, however, torrential rain rendered the course unplayable and forced the organisers to reduce the event to 36 holes.

“It’s a pity, because I have to wonder how I would have done if we had gone 72 holes,” said De Smidt. “I’ve been hitting the ball so well in the last four months that I knew if I stayed patient, the pay-off would come. I believe I would have won this, the way I was playing. There were two pivotal moments in the tournament that was key for me to winning and I managed both of them really well.”

As he prepares for the professional circuit, De Smidt’s main goal is to break 70 in every round.

He was well on his way in round one at seven under through 12 holes when he made a huge number at the par five 13th. It was the kind of mistake that could have derailed his challenge and he is really proud that he didn’t buckle under the pressure.

“I hit a two iron off the tee and laid up with a nine iron,” he said. “I had 50 metres to the flag and I hit a chunky lob-wedge in, but the ball caught the slope and disappeared in the water. So I went back, hit another lob-wedge and got the same result. Back in the water.

“I actually laughed to myself, because I couldn’t believe I made nine. I swore revenge when I finally got off that green and I can’t tell you how great it felt to birdie that hole the next day. When we got to the 14th tee, I told myself I had four holes to finish below 70.

“I made par at 14, but dropped another shot at 15. It was a great relief to birdie 17. It was like that was the moment I knew I could win.”

The Golf RSA National Squad player started the second round with pars at 10 and 11 and picked up his first pair of birdies at 12 and 13.

“I lost the advantage with a double bogey at 14, though,” he said. “I short-sided myself in the bunker and three-putted, but the birdie at 16 gave me a big shot of confidence. I birdied 17 and 18 to turn three under. I followed a birdie at two with bogey at three, but I made another pair of birdies at five and six. And then I birdied eight, as well.

“It felt pretty good to go on a birdie hunt and to walk off with nine birdies after the nine at 14 the previous day. That 66 put me in the lead with a three shot cushion and that felt pretty good. Next up is the Limpopo Championship next month, so I’ll play some social golf for the next two weeks and then start grinding. I’d love to win at least one more this season.”

Strydom from Ekurhuleni registered two 69s, while Meyers from Central Gauteng carded rounds of 68 and 70 to share second.

135 Darin de Smidt 69 66
138 Tristen Strydom 69 69; David Meyers 68 70
140 Albert Venter 70 70; Jason Broomhead 69 71; Andre van Heerden (Jnr) 69 71; Richard Joubert 67 73
141 Luca Filippi 74 67
142 Neswill Croy 71 71
143 Siyanda Mwandla 75 68; Luke Jerling 74 69; Anuerin Gounden 74 69; Louis Albertse 73 70; Kyle McClatchie 73 70
144 Dylan Naidoo 76 68; James Pennington 73 71; Jason Smith 72 72; David-Louis Nortje 71 73
145 Alan Lones 75 70; Dylan Kok 74 71; Quintin Wilsnach 72 73; Juan-Pierre Cooper 72 73; Kieran Vincent ZIM 70 75

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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