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Strydom takes slight edge at Duke of York

12 Sep 2012

Tristen Strydom leads the South African trio after round one of the Duke of York Young Champions

Tristen Strydom, Haydn Porteous and Michaela Fletcher battled the elements to a sluggish start at the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy in Scotland on Tuesday, with Strydom emerging as the local pacesetter.

The three top juniors did not only have to face the diverse field of 50 other junior champions (boys & girls) from 30 countries in  the 12th staging of the prestigious event at Royal Troon, but also tackle the renowned Ayrshire links in gusty conditions.

Fifteen-year-old Strydom fired an opening 12-over-par 84 but the reigning South African Boys U-19 Stroke Play champion trailed first round leader Max Orrin from England by 13 shots. The English national, playing in the final group out, dropped just one shot on his way to a unchallenged 71.

Meanwhile Porteous, a pre-tournament favourite after narrowly missed out on making a play-off for the title last year, will have his job cut out to recover from an opening 85. He will begin the second round 14 shots adrift and tied with reigning SA Girls Stroke Play champion Fletcher.

But the South Africans were not alone in their struggle.

Pre-tournament favourite Dominic Foos from Germany could do no better than an opening 82, while another favourite, Neal Woernhard from Switzerland, went out in 36 strokes, but came home in 51 with a hefty nine and 10 on his card.

Porteous, who will be representing his country at the World Amateur Team Championship next month, said the weather caught everyone by surprise.

“When the first round started, there was just a little breeze about but after about two hours, it really started pumping and made conditions very tricky,” explained the SA Stroke Play champion. “The hail shower certainly didn’t help either.”

The Duke of York Young Champions Trophy is a breeding ground for stars of the future, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Carly Booth, Matteo Manassero, Tom Lewis and Pablo Martin past qualifiers. The unique format of the tournament sees boys and girls compete on equal footing and the trophy is awarded to the boy or girl returning the best overall scratch score over the 54 holes.

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