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STELLENBOSCH: Mafikeng is hardly viewed as the place for golfing enlightenment. But it’s where Ockie Strydom rediscovered the confidence that has seen him take a commanding hold of the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at De Zalze Golf Club.
After 36 holes, Strydom heads the field on 16 under par going into Friday’s final round. He’s three strokes clear of Allan Versfeld.
And he’s done so with two rounds of 64, a total of 18 birdies, and such low nine-hole scores as 29 on the first day and 31 on the second. He made four straight pars in the first round, which. considering the rate at which he’s making birdies, must have felt like an eternity.
“Yeah, I’ve done well. It’s not too bad, really,” Strydom says with more than a hint of understatement.
“I made a few more good putts today. I didn’t hit my irons as close as in the first round, but I holed some good 10- and 15-foot putts.”
It was Strydom’s victory in a tournament in Mafikeng recently, where he beat such experienced campaigners as Jean Hugo and Doug McGuigan, that revived his confidence in his game.
“I lost my confidence a while back. I wasn’t scoring well, and you keep going and trying, but eventually it gets to you. Then I just told myself, ‘You can play this game. You’ve played it for 24 years now, so go out there and enjoy yourself’. My coach also told me he’d give me a klap if I didn’t start playing well soon.
“Then I won that tournament in Mafikeng, and I went from rock bottom to feeling very confident again. It makes a huge difference having a win under your belt.”
Strydom has taken full advantage of a very wet De Zalze golf course this week, having dropped only two shots in 36 holes.
“The course is very wet so there are challenges, but if you’re on form you can shoot low here.”
But Strydom does find himself in uncharted territory.
“I’ve never led a tournament on the Sunshine Tour. I’m trying not to think about it too much, and just want to go out in the final round and play the same game. I’ve just got to make it through the final round now.”