South Africa’s number one ranked Tristen Strydom continued his hot streak, claiming his third podium finish in five weeks at Port Shepstone Golf Club last month. The 17-year-old Serengeti golfer carded rounds of 69, 65, 66 and 70 win the KwaZulu-Natal Open on 18-under-par 270.
He finished five strokes clear of Western Province’s Sean Bradley, while Gauteng North’s Jason Smith claimed third place on 277.
“I definitely have my game back where it was last year, thanks to my coach, Grant Hepburn,” said Strydom, who 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.
“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 resolve when he came from behind and romped to a five-stroke victory in the Western Province Amateur Championship played in May.
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.