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Ken Borland

Strydom does the business with ‘most solid’ nine holes of his career

Posted on December 11, 2022 by Ken

Ockie Strydom with the Alfred Dunhill Championship trophy after he did the business in highly impressive fashion on the back nine at Leopard Creek.
Photo: Ken Borland

Ockie Strydom had been runner-up 19 times and won just once on the Sunshine Tour, but the 37-year-old did the business in highly impressive fashion on the back nine in the final round to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship by two strokes at Leopard Creek on Sunday.

Remarkably, it was a double-bogey on the par-four ninth that sparked Strydom, as he responded immediately to losing the outright lead with two brilliant approach shots, after crunching drives, to set up back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th holes.

Strydom short-sided himself on the ninth with his approach to the left of the flag, the ball spinning back into the water.

But he recovered to produce an impeccably solid back nine, with further birdies on the 13th and 14th holes and seldom looking in any danger of dropping a shot.

“It was probably the most solid nine holes I have played,” Strydom said. “After the double, I said to my caddy Jaris [Kruger, his brother-in-law], that it’s fine, we are still in there and we can pull it back.

“And then we did it in the first two holes of the back nine and just kept the foot on the pedal after that. I’ve been in this situation a lot and I know how to manage it. I was just able to go back to the game I know.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work on my mental toughness and Jaris is a legend who really helped me. We discussed everything and I didn’t play any silly shots,” Strydom said.

Strydom closed with a three-under 69 to finish on 18-under-par, and while the victory was relatively easy in the end – “having a three-shot lead tends to take the nerves away,” Strydom admitted – the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate representative had numerous challengers to worry about through his round.

Scott Jamieson was tied for the lead with Strydom overnight and it was only after eight holes that the experienced Scotsman slipped behind never to return. Jamieson bogeyed the last three holes to post a 76 and finish in a tie for 11th on 11-under, on a final day in which he just never loosened up.

Dean Burmester, two behind at the start of the day, cut the gap to one when he curled in a 27-foot birdie putt on the 10th, but he immediately dropped a shot on the 11th and could only post a level-par 72 to finish on 13-under, tied for seventh with Louis Oosthuizen, who eagled the 11th and also picked up birdies on the 13th and 15th holes to get to 14-under and provide a brief threat. But the 2005 runner-up finished par-par-bogey.

Spaniard Adrian Otaegui, a four-time European Tour winner, produced the only bogey-free round of the day to put Strydom under the most pressure.

Otaegui, beginning the day on 12-under, moved to within a shot of the lead with birdies on the second and third holes, and picked up another shot on the par-four 11th. But crucially, he could not gather any other birdies coming in, until he scored a four at the par-five closing hole.

His 68 left him on 16-under and alone in second place, one shot ahead of Englishman Laurie Canter, whose 64 was the low round of the day. He started with a bogey, but then fired seven birdies and an eagle at the par-four sixth to claim third place.

South Africans Oliver Bekker (71) and Branden Grace (70) at times applied pressure, but both had crucial misses on the back nine as they finished on 14-under, sharing fourth place with Canadian Aaron Cockerill (69).

South African MJ Daffue and Frenchman David Ravetto rounded out the top-10 on 12-under-par, both closing with 69s.

Strydom, the man of the day, however, now has a DP World Tour exemption for two years, when his goals for 2023 were a bit lower – the Challenge Tour.

“It means everything to me, all the South Africans on the Sunshine Tour dream of winning a co-sanctioned event and I always wanted to do it here,” Strydom said.

“I had planned to play a bit on the Challenge Tour, but it has all just changed in the space of a week. I probably need to do some fresh planning.

“My Dad said he would be satisfied if I win one of these co-sanctioned events, I’ve finally done it and to do it at Leopard Creek feels extra good.

“‘Winner of a co-sanctioned event’ has a nice ring to it, but I’m not sure I’m ready for it,” the perennial bridegroom laughed.

Judging by his performance on Sunday afternoon, Strydom looks ready for anything.

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