SA in touch at Juan Carlos Tailhade
South Africa’s top ranked Tristen Strydom and Teaghan Gauche made a solid start in the International Team Competition at the 44th Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup in Argentina, but will have to dig in to keep Australia from claiming their sixth victory in the prestigious event at Los Lagartos Country Club in Buenos Aires.
After Thursday’s opening round was complete washed out by torrential rain, forcing the organisers to reduce the prestigious championship to 54 holes, play got underway at the demanding track on Friday.
The course played very long, but Anthony Quale and John Cameron took full advantage of the soft greens. Quale opened with an even-par 71 and Cameron returned a 72 to put the Australians in charge at one over 143.
Gauche matched Quale with a 71, but a hefty 77 from the country’s number one Strydom left South Africa in a tie for fourth on 148 with Italy and Brazil and trailing by five shots.
Argentina took second on 145 thanks to the low round of the day from Matthias Simaski, who signed for a two under 69. His team mate Matias Lezcano carded 76.
The Swiss team finished in third on 147.
Gauche from Gauteng North overcame bogeys at 11 and 13 with a birdie at 14 and eagle at the par-five 15th to turn one under and wiped out the damage of back-to-back bogeys after the turn with a second birdie at six.
The Wingate Park player tied for fourth in the Individual Competition.
He lags two shots off the pace from Simaski and one stroke behind Michael Harradine from Switzerland and Khaled Attieh from Saudi Arabia, who recently won the leading amateur title on the 2015 MENA Golf Tour.
Strydom turned four over after dropping four shots on the back nine and shaved two shots off his deficit with birdies at two and six.
Unfortunately double bogeys at five and eight saw him finish six over.
Despite struggling with a back injury, Strydom was the top performer in the four-man team from South Africa that competed in the Argentine Stroke Play Championship in March this year. He finished 12th overall and helped the SA team to seventh in the Southern Cross Invitational at the Nordelta Golf Club in Buenos Aires.
The Ekurhuleni golfer returned home and cemented his number one spot in the rankings with victories in the Western Province Amateur Stroke Play, Boland Amateur Stroke Play and KZN Open Stroke Play Championships.
The back injury forced Strydom to the bench in the middle of the season, but he marked his competitive return with a seventh place finish in the Ekurhuleni Open in October.
Strydom and Gauche aim to extend South Africa’s proud history in the event.
Former Masters champion Immelman and Sunshine Tour winner Ulrich van den Berg claimed South Africa’s first victory in 1999, and in 2008, former Sanlam SA Amateur champion Ryan Dreyer and JG Claassen combined for the country’s second triumph.
Jared Harvey and Graham van der Merwe took third place finish in 2011, Drikus Bruyns and CJ du Plessis fourth in 2012 and Gerlou Roux and Callum Mowat placed fifth in 2013.
Last year, Jason Smith and NJ Arnoldi combined for a ninth place finish in the 43rd edition of the world golf ranking event held in Pilar.
Australia tops the medal table with five victories, followed by England with four and the Netherlands with three titles. South Africa and the host nation boast two victories each.
FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD
148 South Africa, Brazil, Italy
149 Canada, Mexico, Uruguay
150 Chile, Colombia, Portugal
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association