AMATEUR OF THE YEAR
TRISTEN STRYDOM is just the second player to retain Golf Digest’s Amateur of the Year title. 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.