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Bad year for Smith on the Sunshine Tour

CALISTUS KOLANTSHO
Smith has had a tough year
Botswana number one professional golfer, Stuart Smith is having a bad year in the Sunshine Tour campaign. Smith has not been playing well since the beginning of the tour in April.

However, Smith redeemed himself, shot par 10 to finish third in last week’s Big Easy Championship, which is part of the Sunshine Tour. 

Three weeks ago, at the Kings Cup that was played in Swaziland, Smith shot par 12 to finish fifth. He is currently in Durban where the main tour,  Sun Sibiya Challenge is being played.

Stuart is currently ranked 109th on the money listings, and has been working with a new short game coach on his weaknesses.

“I am really striking the ball well over the tee to green, but I realised that the pitching and short game skills were crucial for saving strokes and making good scores,”  Stuart told Mmegi Sport.

“This past month, my game plan has been coming together. I have some new techniques to practice and I keep working on them to get those skills entrenched,” he said.

Bluetree World of Golf owner and Stuart’s sponsor, Steve Smith explained to Mmegi Sport how the tour works.

“If you finish the last year in top 100 rankings, you keep your tour card for the next year. Stuart finished 119th last year. If not, you go to Tour School in March, maybe 350 golfers, and top 30 get cards,” he said. 

Steve said Stuart got his tour card in March after breaking the course record at the Firethorne Golf Club in Johannesburg, where he came 19th.

The Sunshine Tour Season starts every year in April, and ends March.  It comprises three tours.

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The main tour is the Sunshine Tour, which runs from April to March. It takes a break in June and July. Then Big Easy is a smaller tour, but part of the Sunshine Tour, that starts in June, and finishes with a championship in October and then the women’s tour.

Sunshine Tour starts with Zimbabwe Open in April followed by Zambia Open amongst others.

The tour has smaller events being Vodacom and Sun International and would finish in Simola in Knysna in early November. Stuart will play in Mount Edgecombe this week, and Simola next week, Steve explained.

He said so far on that tour Stuart has finished three events, and lies in position 109 in the order of merit to date.  He said that means the golfer has a lot of work to do.

“So he played Big Easy Tour also, and that is where he finished well in the last three weeks.  He is ranked 17th on that tour rankings,” he said.

Steve said bigger events start from November to February. He said Stuart has to qualify for some events and only the best 10 players can qualify, which is a tough assignment. 

The big events he has to qualify for are part of the European Tour, being the Mauritius Open, Johannesburg Open, South Africa Open and Tshwane Open. The others he may get in without having to qualifying for are Eye of Africa, Dimension Data and Cape Town Open.



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