Ockie Strydom is back on home fairways following a life-changing past few months as he tees it up in this week’s Mediclinic Invitational at Centurion Country Club, which starts on Wednesday.
After breaking through with the biggest victory of his career in December’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, Strydom claimed his second DP World Tour title in six starts in February’s Singapore Classic.
Strydom is currently fifth on the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings and first on the Sunshine Tour’s Luno Order of Merit as he returns to South Africa for this new Sunshine Tour 72-hole event featuring a purse of R2-million.
Strydom is back as a vastly more experienced golfer with a new level of confidence in his ability as he joins a field including George Coetzee and Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year leader Martin Vorster.
“The two DP World Tour victories have given me the self-belief to know I belong out here and that I can compete against the top players in the world,” he said.
“It’s just the mindset that is changing at the moment where you know you’ve been in this situation before and you know you can do it again.”
After a well-publicised collection of 19 runner-up finishes in his career, interrupted by his victory in the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf in Sishen, Strydom admits he wondered if he would ever break through on a bigger stage.
“It was always on my mind – if I would ever win on the DP World Tour. Especially after so many second places. I just focused on what I could control.
“Technically, my coach Doug Wood and I worked on my clubface in the week of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and to square it up as it was closed at the top of my swing.
“And then Willie the physio helped me get through the week physically. My back was under big pressure and I was in quite a bit of pain that week.
“Then in Singapore, I was really calm throughout the final round. My chip on the final green to win was probably one of the best chips that I have ever played under pressure.
“To be honest I didn’t think I would ever win the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Then to win again in Singapore was amazing.”