25th July 2016 | Big Easy IGT Golf
Super-charged Strydom seizes share of Irene Challenge lead
(PHOTO – Tristen Strydom; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 25 July 2016 – Top ranked amateur Tristen Strydom credited an extraordinary rock climber Matt Bush, biokineticist Gavin Groves, sports producer Louis Hattingh and the competitive environment of the country’s premier development Tour for collectively inspiring him to make the most of his second start on the IGT Tour on Monday.
The 19-year-old Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate golfer fired an opening three-under-par 69 to land a share of the Irene Challenge lead alongside Terence Boardman. The pair lead by one shot from Zwartkop Match Play champion Damian Naicker and local amateur Ruan Korb and Philip Kruse and finished two shots clear of Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner Carrie Park, who birdied the 18th to tie for sixth with England’s Gregg Blainey.
Strydom led the South African Golf Association Open Amateur rankings for over a year, but since his comeback from a back injury late last year, the Pretoria native has slipped to 10th in the standings.
“I’ve had a couple of solid finishes, including a tie for second in my first IGT Tour event early in the year, but after the string of disappointing results during our trip to the United Kingdom with the Golf RSA National Squad, I’ve been frustrated,” he said.
“This wasn’t a good place to be with the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School in September, so I kicked my practice into high gear, but I needed that something-something to fire me up again.
“I decided to stay home and play the IGT Tour after our Golf RSA National Squad camp on the weekend, because I wanted to more game time in a strong competitive setting. Then, during the camp, three things happened: Matt Bush, Gavin Groves and Louis Hattingh.
“Matt Bush is probably the best free solo climber in the world. What this guy does is absolutely insane, but he is so passionate and fearless and he pushes through the most incredible, unthinkable challenges because he loves what he does.
“I’ve known Louis from SuperSport for a long time and I’ve been working with Gavin at the HPC this year, so I didn’t expect to get much out of sessions, but I was wrong. I don’t know, maybe it was because of Matt that I listened with an open mind, but all these guys stirred up a real hunger in me to compete and to win.”
Strydom began his round at Irene Country Club with a pair of birdies and reeled in a trio gains around the turn to counter three-putt bogeys at three and 14.
“I’ve shot 66 a few times at this layout, but the way I am playing I’ll take that 69,” he said. “It was bitterly cold and I didn’t strike the ball well on the back nine, but I fought like a demon over the last four holes to save pars for a share of the lead.
“I was thinking about how I felt when I won my first IGT Tour title at Benoni Country Club in 2014 and how it inspired me to the number one spot in the amateur rankings. I want that excitement again. The speakers at the camp this weekend reminded me that to succeed, I need to get really professional about my fitness, my practice sessions, everything.
“Everyone knows I’ve always been a bit lazy, but I’ve never worked harder on my game than I have in the last month and that’s what got me in the lead. I came to the IGT Tour to play, but now I’m not just here to play anymore; now I want to win. It’s going to take everything I have with the state my game is in, but I’m going to fight all the way to the finish line on Wednesday.”