22nd June 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour

Eagle seals double success for Strydom at Wingate

WingateDay3 (6)(Photo – Ockie Strydom; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 22 June 2016 – It was tough going at Wingate Park Country Club with strong gusts of wind and hard, fast greens and a three-way play-off was on the cards until Ockie Strydom pulled off a gritty eagle at 18 to pocket the Wingate Challenge title on Wednesday.

The Sunshine Tour campaigner drained a tricky putt from the back fringe at the final hole for a three to close with an even-par 72 and defeated Juan Swart and Morne Buys by two strokes.

His ninth career IGT Tour victory on four under 212 followed a play-off win in the Killarney Challenge two weeks ago and the Kempton Park golfer confessed that he had to dig a whole lot deeper in the tough scoring conditions to secure the silverware.

“This week was tough and today was the toughest,” said Strydom. “I had to scramble to stay in the fight this week. I am striking the ball very well, but I battled with the putter. I couldn’t get it going over the first 45 holes, but I hung tough and I’m incredibly pleased that I kept fighting until the last hole.”

Strydom began the final round two off the pace from overnight leaders Swart, Rhys West and amateur Kyle Barker.

Swart fell from contention first with a double bogey at the par three eighth, and Barker followed suit with a double at 12. West also slipped backwards after four successive bogeys from the 11th.

This opened the door for Jonathan Waschefort and Damian Naicker to hit the front.

Naicker took the lead at the turn, but his bid derailed with a triple at the par four 12th and a bogey at 14. Waschefort took over and held the lead until the par four 16th, where a double bogey followed by back-to-back drops ended his reign.

“I had soft drops at one, four, six and 13, but it seemed that everyone was struggling,” Strydom said. “I figured if I stayed patient and pick up one or two birdies down the back nine, I might have a chance and the birdies arrived at 14 and 15.”

Strydom almost holed out at the 14th and tapped in for birdie. He hit a superb four-iron into the par five 15th and two-putted for birdie. Within two holes, he was among the leaders. The well-timed birdie pair moved Strydom to a tie for the lead with Swart and Buys at two under.

“Juan also birdied 14 and 15 and Morne, playing ahead of us, birdied 15 and 16,” Strydom said. “He finished with pars and set the clubhouse target at two under. I made solid pars at 16 and 17, but Juan bogeyed 17 behind me.

“I left an eagle putt in the throat at 15, and heading down the 18th, I knew I had to go for broke. I hit the six-iron with everything I had and I knew right off it came out well. The putt was just off the green and it was tricky. The line was a metre left to right and over a mound, but the putter finally came to the party and I hit it absolutely perfectly.”

Safely tucked in the clubhouse at four under, Strydom watched Swart birdie 18 to tie Buys for second before he started celebrating.

“This is a great result for me,” said the GFG Academy player. “The Sunshine Tour has a seven week break, so it’s great to have the IGT Tour to stay competitive. The standard is high and the competition is fierce, so it’s great to have this platform to keep in shape until the end of July. Hopefully I can collect a few more trophies in the next couple of weeks to build some confidence for the Wild Coast.”

Barker from Parkview signed off with a 77 to take fourth on 215, while Naicker and West shared fifth on even par 216 after respective rounds of 75 and 78.

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