Strydom sizzles into New Year at Orange Bowl

South Africa’s Tristen Strydom put an exclamation mark on a watershed season 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.

Strydom’s undeniable talent and signature resolve lifted him to second in the South African Golf Association’s Open Amateur rankings this year and he put these qualities on display with a superb final round performance at the Biltmore Golf Club.

The 17-year-old Ekurhuleni junior struggled to come to terms with the tricky Bermuda greens in the first two rounds, but after successive 73s, however, he dipped one shot under par in the third round and fired a flawless five-under-par 66 in the final round to finish alone in fifth on two under 282.

Strydom notched two birdies on the front nine, grabbed another just after the turn and added a brace of birdies at the 13th and 14th to finish within five strokes of Boys Division champion, Joaquin Niemann from Chile.

Strydom has certainly underlined his status as one of South Africa’s future champions with podium finishes in the Nomads SA Boys U-19 Stroke Play and KZN Amateur Match Play Championships, the Harry Oppenheimer Trophy and the International Team’s Championship.

He earned his berth in the prestigious international junior event when he claimed the Glacier Junior Series National Final and enjoyed a maiden victory against the pros on the IGT Tour.

Compatriot Paul Boshoff carded rounds of 76, 70, 75 and 72 to tie for 29th on nine over 293.

Strydom was thrilled to finish well and share the low round of the day with top German junior, Maximilliam Bodel, in a championship that is recognised as one of the world’s most prestigious junior events.

“It was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tee it up in the Orange Bowl and I really wanted to do well here,” he said.

“It’s a very tough layout, but I was striking it really well in the practice rounds and the first two round. I not used to the Bermuda greens, though, and the first two rounds were was pretty frustrating.

“The wind blew a gale in the third round and I was quite happy to walk off with a 70, but I went out to post a low score in the final round and I’m really pleased I managed to pull it off.

“I didn’t birdie any of the par-fives, so it could have been even better. Still, I’m thrilled that I could finish fifth in a field that was loaded with the top juniors in the world.

“This was an incredible experience for Paul and I and I am extremely grateful that Glacier by Sanlam made this possible for me.”

Meanwhile South Korea’s Juwon Jeong defeated Sweden’s Linnea Strom at the third hole of a play-off after both players tied on one-under-par 283 in regulation play.

Zimbabwe’s Kieren Vincent tied for sixth on one under 283, while compatriot Stuart Krog finished joint 33rd on 14 over 298.

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

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