Bezuidenhout beats Strydom for Silver Salver
Theuni Bezuidenhout added his name to an illustrious list of former champions when he lifted prestigious PWC GNGU Silver Salver at Irene Country Club on Sunday.
The up-and-coming North West amateur tied defending champion Triston Strydom held his nerve to defeat the reigning Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion at the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the next phase of my career,” said the 19-year-old, who recently relocated from Rustenburg to Pretoria to attend the TuksSport Golf Academy.
“It is such an honour to have my name engraved on a trophy that has so many of South Africa’s golfing greats on it. It’s like the who’s who of golf and I feel very proud and privilege to own this title.”
The Silver Salver dates back to 1964. The inaugural event was won by Dave Symmons, who also lifted the Freddie Tait Cup in the 1966 South African Open Championship.
PGA Tour campaigner Hugh Baiocchi won the championship in 1968 and 1996 and European Tour champion Gavan Levenson shared the title in 1975.
“Ernie Els won it in 1989, Retief Goosen the following year and Louis Oosthuizen was the champion in 2001,” Bezuidenhout said.
“The Silver Salver is steeped in history and it’s an awesome feeling to be part of that history now.”
Bezuidenhout reeled in eight birdies against a lone drop for a seven-under-par 65 in the first round, while defending champion Strydom carded an opening 71.
“I didn’t start well in the second round,” said Bezuidenhout. “I dropped four shots to turn in three over and I knew I need to make something happen on the back nine.
“I holed a tough 20-footer with a lot of break on it for birdie at the 12th and that got me going.”
He parred his way to the 17th, where he boxed a five-footer for birdie and parred the 18th for a 73. Having set the 36-target at six-under-par 138, Bezuidenhout settled in to wait for Strydom.
The defending champion launched a spirited charge, but spoiled his chances with a bogey-bogey finish.
Strydom signed for a 67 and the tournament went into extra time.
The pair returned to the par-four first, where Bezuidenhout had to drain a must-make par putt to extend the play-off.
“The second play-off hole was the par-five ninth, and we both hit driver down the fairway,” Bezuidenhout said. “I hit a three-wood just short of the hole and Triston hit a six-iron, but his shot went out of bounds right.
“I chipped it up to 10-foot and he hit it to about the same distance, but he missed the par putt. I had two putts in hand, so I just lagged the first one close and finished it off.”
Bezuidenhout represented North West at U-19 and U-23 level, and made his debut in the premier South African Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, at Westlake Golf Club in September.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.