TRIS­TEN STRY­DOM is just the sec­ond player to re­tain Golf Di­gest’s Am­a­teur of the Year ti­tle. By Barry Havenga

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - News - By Barry Havenga

The am­a­teur golfers who made the big­gest im­pact in 2015.

Alower back in­jury kept him out of tour­na­ment golf for five months, yet Tris­ten Stry­dom still did enough in the first half of the 2015 sea­son to earn his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Golf Di­gest Am­a­teur of the Year award.

The 18-year-old from Serengeti had three wins to his name by early May, but a stress frac­ture that same month meant he was only able to play one more tour­na­ment dur­ing the year. How­ever, in the 11 tour­na­ments he did play, out of 24, he earned enough points to fin­ish No 2 on the Golf Di­gest rank­ings.

Stry­dom moved from Ekurhu­leni to the Western Cape to re­ceive treat­ment dur­ing his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pe­riod. Once re­cov­ered, he worked on swing changes to pro­tect his back with new coach Grant Hep­burn.

Stry­dom headed the Golf Di­gest rank­ings for most of the year, and could well have re­tained his No 1 spot, but he missed the fi­nal two tour­na­ments in Novem­ber due to na­tional duty in Ar­gentina for two weeks.

An­dre Nel (Kingswood) fin­ished No 1 by a mar­gin of 51 points, but Stry­dom’s three vic­to­ries and the fact that he was con­sis­tently in con­tention when he did play, was the rea­son we gave him the award. Nel was the most im­proved am­a­teur, his break­through vic­tory com­ing in the WP Am­a­teur at Ron­de­bosch in April. He had seven top-10s in stroke­play tour­na­ments. He was a mem­ber of a four­man SA team in the African Am­a­teur Teams Champs in Kenya in Oc­to­ber.

The 20-year-old’s golf has ben­e­fit­ted hugely af­ter a move from East Lon­don to the Ke­Nako Academy in Ge­orge, where he has thrived un­der the tute­lage of Roger Wes­sels.

“An­dre pro­gressed very quickly when he moved here in 2014,” said Wes­sels. “He has a won­der­ful at­tribute of just get­ting on with things even when he’s not at his best.”

Stry­dom has no plans to turn pro­fes­sional un­til the end of 2016, so he will be aim­ing for an un­prece­dented hat-trick of Am­a­teur of the Year awards in the com­ing sea­son. “I want to plan my sched­ule around our ma­jor tour­na­ments in 2016 and also play as much as pos­si­ble over­seas,” says Stry­dom. “I played too much tour­na­ment golf in the first half of 2015, which prob­a­bly con­trib­uted to my back in­jury. My re­main­ing goals are to win a na­tional ti­tle and play on the Eisen­hower Tro­phy team in Mex­ico in Septem­ber.”

Matthew Kent was the last player to win back-to-back Am­a­teur of the Year awards in 2003-04.

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