23rd August 2016 | Big Easy IGT Golf
Strydom surges clear at Wingate Challenge
(PHOTO – Tristen Strydom; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 23 August 2016 – Tristen Strydom’s fine form on the IGT Tour continued as the Ekurhuleni amateur forced his way to the top of the Wingate Challenge with a superb round of six-under-par 66 in Tuesday’s second round.
The 19-year-old stomped his authority on the tournament with an eagle and five birdies and dropped just one shot at Wingate Park Country Club as he moved into the top spot at seven-under-par 137.
He leads by one shot from England’s David Ashley, who eagled the 18th for a 67.
Danie van Niekerk – who held a share of the first round lead – also made three at the closing par five for a 71. He lies four off the pace in joint third with fellow North West amateur Aubrey Beckley and NJ Arnoldi. Beckley shot 69 and Arnoldi signed for a 67.
Damian Naicker and Graham van der Merwe posted respective rounds of 70 and 72 to join the other overnight leader Coert Groenewald, who slipped to sixth with a 73.
Strydom was benched with a back injury in May and struggled to regain the form that took him to the number one spot in the rankings since he returned to the game at the SA Open in January.
After a tour to the United Kingdom in June, he took some serious decisions about his game.
“You can’t compete unless you are completely committed,” he said. “I realised I was in a bad head space and I knew that was holding me back. I shifted into a more positive frame of mind, increased my fitness regime and spent a lot more time practicing than I’ve ever done.”
The extra effort had an immediate effect on his game and his attitude and he quickly found his winning form again on the country’s premier development Tour.
He won the Irene Challenge in his first start just under a month ago and finished second in his second start at the Kyalami Challenge last week.
Bidding for a second victory, Strydom overhauled the first round leaders at the par-five second with a chip-in eagle from 20 feet and followed up with birdies at six and seven to take the lead.
“I set up the birdies at six and seven with two big drives,” he said. “I hit lob-wedge to five feet at the 12th and made a good chip-and-putt at the 13th for another pair of birdies.
“I was driving the ball really well all day, but I gave the approach just a little too much at 17 and flew the green. I hit a pretty decent chip to four feet, but the par putt slipped past.”
After another really solid drive at 18, Strydom hit seven-iron just short of the green, chipped it close and holed the birdie putt.
“All in all it was a solid day,” he said. “I hit 10 of 14 fairways and made 28 putts; that’s the kind of stats I had going when I was winning and it feels good to be rounds like that together again. I feel like my game is just about at the level it was when I was winning a lot and that gives me a lot of confidence.”