7th December 2016 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Strydom shows them all at Sun City

SunCityDay3 (179)(PHOTO – Tristen Strydom; credit CJ du Plooy)

Lali Stander

PILANSBERG, 7 December 2016 – Pretoria rookie Tristen Strydom scored his second IGT Tour victory of the season in a dramatic final round at Sun City on Wednesday.

Jonathan Waschefort, Damian Naicker and Paul Boshoff all had a stab at the Race to Q-School #10 title, but as they faltered over the home stretch, Strydom stepped up and conquered the Gary Player Country Club with a final round four-under-par 68.

Strydom banked the winner’s share of the R100 000 prize pot when he beat Waschefort by one shot with a winning total of one under 215. But the 19-year-old from Garsfontein wasn’t done – he also partnered Yogesh Chhita (stat) to win the Sun International VIP Pro-Am.

The pair posted a total tally of 48 points to win by four points.

“I’m really pleased for Yogesh that we finished in front,” said Strydom. “The 12 VIP’s from Sun International that up the prize money for this week played with the top 12 guys after the second round.

“My playing partner, Francois Coetzee from the Sunshine Tour, played with Zaheer Cassim. Yogesh and Zaheer were great fun and we had an awesome time with a lot of friendly banter and joshing. I have to say it was probably the most enjoyable final rounds I’ve ever played.

“Yogesh had my back a few times off a tidy 10 handicap and he gave me a lot of support, especially down the back nine. It’s great to win both titles at this beast of a course.”

Overnight leader Boshoff kept control and was still leading the pack at two under when he destroyed his chances of a maiden win with a double bogey at the par five 14th and bogeys at 16 and 18.

Naicker took the wheel at two under through 16 and the Race to Q-School leader looked set to claim his fifth victory this season on the country’s premier golf development circuit, but his bid died a watery death with a double bogey at 17.

First round leader Waschefort took over at two under through 16, but Strydom cut his lead to one shot with a birdie at the final hole. The 26-year-old hit his approach into the 17th too long and failed to up-and-down for par and his approach into the final hole also missed the target.

“His ball was buried in the thick stuff next to the greenside bunker and he couldn’t up-and-down to save par and force a play-off,” said Strydom. “To be honest, I had some poor holes too, but I made the crucial putts when it mattered the most.

“I was level through eight, but I hit a great drive down the fairway at nine and drove it to 20 feet with a four-iron to set up an eagle chance. I left the putt short, but tapped it in for birdie to turn one under. At the 10th, I hit my tee shot just off the fairway right among the trees. I hit an incredible seven-iron nice and low under the trees to eight feet and made the putt for eagle. That combination around the turn definitely kicked up my game a couple of gears.”

Strydom surrendered a shot at 11 but made up for the drop with a birdie at 14.

“I missed a couple of other birdie chances, but the up-and-down to save par at 17 was the hole of the day,” he said. “My approach landed short next to the greenside bunker. I hit a brilliant chip out of that thick stuff to 25 foot and holed the putt.

“I knew Jonathan was two under when I went down 18, so I went for broke. I hammed a four iron down the fairway and hit seven-iron into the back right pin to eight feet and made the putt for birdie.”

Strydom is leaving for Bangkok just after New Year and he said he feels like he is striking the ball as good as when he dominated the circuit two years ago.

“I’m definitely coming into some really good form at the right time, thanks to going back to the basics with my dad (Freddie) and my coach (Grant Hepburn),” he said.

“My back problems are a thing of the past now and it’s great to win with four weeks left before the First Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School. Next week we end the season at Wingate Park, which is like my home course because I live five minutes from the golf club. Hopefully I can go two-in-a-row and take that game to Asia.”

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