31st August 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Class act Strydom strikes at Centurion Challenge
(PHOTO – Tristen Strydom; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 31 August 2016 – Kempton Park pro Ockie Strydom continued his dominance of the 2016 IGT Tour season when he defeated North West amateur Aubrey Beckley in a play-off to claim his fifth title at the Centurion Challenge on Wednesday.
With this win, the 29-year-old GFG Academy player extended his winning tally on the country’s premier development circuit to a record 12 victories.
Strydom and Beckley began the final round at Centurion Country Club as joint leaders at 13 under and they deadlocked at 16-under-par 200 at the end of regulation play with matching rounds of 69.
Pretoria amateur Tristen Strydom had assumed pole position through nine holes, but also closed with a 69 to finish third on 15 under, while amateur Danie van Niekerk from North West carded a 70 to take fourth at 202.
Local favourite Juan Swart rounded out the top five at 13 under 202 with a final round 70.
Last month Strydom replaced Danie van Tonder at the top of the IGT Tour All-Time Career Winner’s list when he pushed his trophy haul to 11 at the Waterkloof Challenge and the Sunshine Tour player was overjoyed to make it a full dozen.
“I’m really, really pleased with this win,” said Strydom. “The confidence that I built over the five weeks on the IGT Tour prepared me well to restart the Sunshine Tour after the long winter break. I shared second at the Wild Coast and finished third at Sun City.
“It’s a great feeling to get number 12 in the bag, because it was a really tight fight out there and to pull it off under intense pressure has put me into a very positive frame of mind. I dedicate this one to my wife Marizanne, my coach Graeme Francis and my caddie Armando Botes.
“No matter how it goes on course, they always give me the same measure of support and I’m grateful that I can repay their trust and support with a trophy finish.”
Strydom faltered early on with a double bogey at the 11th – his second hole of the day – when he hit his tee shot in the waste bunker and overshot the green with his second shot.
He reversed half the damage with a birdie at 12 and further gains at 14 and 15 saw him turn one stroke behind two-time IGT Tour winner Strydom, who reached 15 under with a flawless opening loop of 33 strokes.
Beckley, meanwhile, countered three dropped shots with a trio of birdies on the front nine to start the last loop two off the pace.
Strydom birdied the first to pull level with his namesake, but the Pretoria amateur boxed a birdie putt at the third hole to edge in front again.
“I made a good birdie at four to catch Tristen and the fight was on for the finish line,” said Strydom. “I knew I had a one shot lead at 17 under over the two amateurs going down the last hole after Tristen bogeyed seven and Aubrey made birdies at six and eight.
“I prayed that just for once, the ninth hole at Centurion would be kind to me. Naturally, I snap-hooked the tee shot into the water. I don’t know what it is about that hole but it always bites me. So I bogeyed and Aubrey made a great birdie and there we were, tied at 16 under and going back to the ninth tee for the play-off.
“At last the golfing gods smiled on me. I hit my tee shot on the green and Aubrey found the bunker. He hit a great trap-shot for his second and I lagged my first putt close. Aubrey’s birdie putt lipped out, so I just had to tap-in for the win.
“I really enjoyed playing with Aubrey over the three rounds, because he is a real fighter. He and Tristen are incredibly talented and they have what it takes – that never-say-die attitude that you need to survive on the pro circuit. . I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow when you come so close two weeks in a row, but I hope Aubrey focusses only on the positives of the last two weeks, because it will benefit him in the long run. Fantastic to see such talent coming out the amateur ranks.”