ZIMBABWEAN golfer Ben Follet-Smith continued his impressive start to professional golf after clinching his maiden win at the Big Easy IGT Challenge in just his second start on the South African Development Tour at Kyalami Country Club on Wednesday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 24-year-old rising star fired five birdies and an eagle for a four-under-par final-round 68 to seal a one shot win over Korean DK Kim and the South African duo of Cameron Moralee and Ruan Korb.
An elated Follet-Smith, who recently captured the revived Harare Open on home soil, said the win was the ideal confidence booster as he seeks to attain playing privileges on the lucrative European Tour.
“I played some really good golf in the final round. It felt like I didn’t make any mistakes out there. I couldn’t have asked for better preparation for my upcoming trip to Austria for the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School,” the Royal Harare golfer said.
“I was five-under in the first round, with a four shot lead, but I fell right off pace with a 76 in round two. Golf is not easy and that taught me not to get too comfortable. Today, I played to win.”
A former Zimbabwe Amateur champion, Follett-Smith graduated from Mississippi State University with a marketing degree last year before deciding to join the professional ranks.
He found immediate success, winning the National Aids Council Pro-Am at Royal Harare Golf Club, by eight shots on his professional in October last year, before claiming a runner-up finish in the Ivory Coast Open on the West Africa Golf Tour.
Follet-Smith continued his progression by claiming his first victory on South African soil when he went wire-to-wire on the IGT Challenge Tour early this year in February.
Follett-Smith has also enjoyed some success on the Sunshine Tour, managing a tie for 12th in the KCB Karen Masters in Kenya and joint sixth in the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge a fortnight ago which lifted him to 68th on the Order of Merit standings.
“After two good finishes on the Sunshine Tour recently, it’s a good feeling to bag my third trophy. It’s been less than a year since I turned pro, so it feels like I’m trending in the right direction,” he said.