Strydom means business at SA Open

“It is business as usual,” said Ekurhuleni’s Tristen Strydom, who will be bringing the same dogged determination that saw him rise to the number two spot in the SA Open Amateur rankings to his debut in the 104th South African Open Championship at Glendower on Thursday.

The 17-year-old amateur was happy to be back on home soil after a fifth place finish at the Orange Bowl Junior Invitational in Florida on Old Year’s Eve. He looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the cream of the Sunshine and European Tours at the Dowerglen layout, but Strydom has no illusions or unrealistic expectations of the week ahead.

“It was pretty cool to arrive here and see all the branding and the bells and whistles, but you need to get past that very quickly or you could be intimidated by it all, said Strydom after his practice round on Wednesday.

“From Thursday, it’s all about the golf course and the scores you put up. And you will need all your savvy to get around Glendower this week.”

Strydom launched his attack on the number one spot with victory in the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play in April last year.

He kept the climb going with further podium finishes in the KwaZulu-Natal Match Play, the Northern Amateur Match Play, the Happy Oppenheimer Trophy and the International Teams Championship in November and gained valuable experience during a stint in Europe where he competed in the Dutch, German and Belgium Open Amateur Championships.

Following a top 20 finish at the RB German Junior on the World Junior Series, Strydom claimed a top 10 finish in the invitation-only Duke of York Young Champions Trophy at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland.

Towards the end of the season, Strydom outplayed seasoned professionals to claim his first IGT Tour title Race to Q-School at Benoni Country Club and he sealed his berth at the Orange Bowl when he defeated the other 2014 Glacier Junior Series winners at the National Final.

Strydom is the first to admit it was a watershed season, but he is looking forward, not backward.

“It really was a great season, but you have to keep on improving,” Strydom said. “I’ve got a great opportunity to that here this week and I hope to make the most of it.”
The Pretoria golfer gained new respect for Glendower during his practice round.

“I haven’t played here since I missed the 2012 SA Stroke Play,” he said.

“It’s not a very long course, but the set-up is very tough. It’s going to test all your shots. This isn’t the type of course where you can pull out driver on every hole. In fact, I only used the driver five times in the practice round.

“You have to plan your shots and your execution has to be spot on. The rough is brutal, but the greens are fantastic. But it’s the route that takes you to the greens that will tell the story here this week.”

Strydom will try to emulate Denis Hutchinson, the last amateur to lift the SA Open title in 1959, alongside Gerlou Roux from Western Province, Hendrikus Stoop and reigning SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith, Central Gauteng’s Matthew Spacey, and Andi Dill, who claimed his spot in a five-way play-off in the qualifier at Zwartkop Country Club.

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

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