Strydom in ascendancy again in KZN

South Africa’s number one ranked Tristen Strydom continued his hot streak with his third provincial victory in two months at Port Shepstone on Sunday.

The 17-year-old Serengeti golfer carded rounds of 69, 65, 66 and 70 to claim the in the KwaZulu-Natal Open Championship title on 18-under-par 270, finishing five strokes clear of Western Province’s Sean Bradley.

Gauteng North’s Jason Smith took third place on 277, while Matthew Spacey from Central Gauteng finished a further stroke adrift in fourth.

Rising SAGDB star Siyanda Mwandla from Mount Edgecombe led the local challenge with a tie for 11th on two under 286.

Strydom was one off the pace after the first round, but surged five strokes clear of the field after his second trip around the South Coast layout and never looked back.

“I definitely have my game back where it was last year, thanks to my coach, Grant Hepburn,” Strydom said.

“Through the first three rounds, I only dropped four shots and I was 16 under. I got it to four under in the final round through 11 holes, but I double-bogeyed the 12th. I made birdies at 13 and 15 to go eight strokes clear again, but I dropped two shots at the 16th when I plugged in the lip of a bunker.

“My main goal was to play all four rounds under par, and I managed to close with two pars to keep the streak going. I’m really feeling great about my game at the moment. I’m striking the ball very well and the putter has come along nicely, too.”

Strydom has moved to 237 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, and he has made the number one spot his aim over the next two years.

“You have to work towards something in this game, otherwise there is no point,” he said.

“I am still a long way off, but I don’t think it’s an impossible or unreasonable target to set myself. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of experience to gain, so making the number one spot a priority is one way of keeping myself competitive and hungry.”

Strydom enjoyed a breakthrough season on the Open Amateur circuit and surged through the rankings to take the number one spot in the South African Golf Association (SAGA) Open amateur rankings late last year.

The 2014 Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion underlined his status as one of South Africa’s future champions with victories in the 2014 KZN Amateur Match Play Championships, the Harry Oppenheimer Trophy and the International Team’s Championship and he put an exclamation mark on his rising status when he blasted to a top five finish in his debut at the 51st Junior Orange Bowl International in Coral Gables, Florida on New Year’s Eve.

After a stuttering start to his 2015 season, there was no denying his budding talent and signature resolve when he came from behind and romped to a five-stroke victory in the Western Province Amateur Championship last month.

Just a week after the podium finish at Rondebosch Golf Club, Strydom edged out Clayton Mansfield by one stroke to lift the Boland Amateur Stroke Play Championship title at Hermanus Golf Club.

The Ekurhuleni golfer further cemented his position at the top of the standings with a runner-up finish in the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifier in March, and notched top 10 finishes in seven of his other nine starts this season.

270 Tristen Strydom 69 65 66 70
275 Sean Bradley 71 68 70 66
277 Jason Smith 73 67 71 66
278 Matthew Spacey 72 67 69 70
281 Andre Nel 73 72 67 69
283 Kyle McClatchie 75 67 73 68; Neal Herman 73 70 71 69; Reinhardt Blaauw 72 71 69 71; Ian Snyman 68 71 71 73
285 Aubrey Beckley 78 71 68 68

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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