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29th June 2022 | Big Easy Tour

Hess, Hendler and De Smidt in three-way share of lead at Houghton

Ruan de Smidt carded a near-perfect round of three-under-par 69 on day two of the Altron Big Easy Tour to total four-under for the week and force himself into a three-way share of the lead ahead of the final round at Houghton Golf Club.

The Krugersdorp Golf Club player was four shots off Jacquin Hess’ lead after round one and with the weather a lot warmer than it was on Tuesday when the tournament started, De Smidt seized his opportunity to move up the leaderboard.

“It was a little of both good and bad this week,” De Smidt noted, “because it felt like yesterday I hit it really well but putted horribly. Today, for the first nine holes, I hit it really well again and I was two-under at the turn. Back nine, I hit it probably the worst I have hit it all year and went one-under but all in all, I am happy with the work this week.”

De Smidt birdied the third and sixth holes but gave a shot away on the eighth hole. He shrugged that solitary bogey off immediately and made up for it with a birdie before the turn. He then made seven straight pars as he played cautiously to avoid any big numbers that threatened to get onto his scorecard. His patience was finally rewarded when he birdied the par-four 17th to seal a round of 69 and play himself into contention going into the final round here.

“I think tomorrow I just have to go out and hit it better than I did today on the back nine,” said de Smidt of his approach to the final round. “If I had it better than I did in the first 27 holes, and just putt half decently, then I’m sure I will be in with a chance, at least.”

Hess shot a 73 but that was enough to see him retain his spot atop the leaderboard, albeit with companions. His second round was characterised by three bogeys and two birdies, numbers he will want to rectify in the final round if he is to claim his second title on this circuit.

Dainfern Golf Club’s Ricky Hendler finds himself in contention yet again, thanks to his hard-fought one-under 73 which took his tournament total to four-under. He made four birdies and three bogeys en route to his 71 and will be looking for an improved performance on day three if he is to challenge for honours on Thursday.

“I’m playing great golf,” Hendler said after his round, “but I just think I played the par-fives pretty poorly. But I have been in this situation four weeks in a row now, so I am going to think very hard about the strategy for tomorrow and really focus on my routine. I have to make sure that my caddie and I are on the same page and try to commit to every shot and hopefully, at the end of it, it’s going to be enough. But I won’t really worry about anybody else but myself.”

Tying fourth and just a shot off the lead, member of the Papwa Sewgolum Class Nikhil Rama and Portugal’s Carlos Laranja will feel that the opportunity is there for either of them to ascend to the summit when all is said and done here at Houghton Golf Club.

On a tournament total of two-under, Nicholaus Frade and Samuel Simpson are in a share of sixth while DK Kim, Richard Kruger, Luan Boshoff, Dayne Moore, Keelan van Wyk and Zabastian de Jager share the eighth spot on one-under for the week.

The Big Easy Tour was founded in 2011 with support from Ernie Els and counts current international star Christiaan Bezuidenhout among its former Order of Merit winners.