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Ockie Strydom's Major debut is the culmination of 15 years hard work

Ockie Strydom's Major debut is the culmination of 15 years hard work

Ockie Strydom is looking forward to enjoying the culmination of 15 years' hard work when he tees it up in his maiden Major at the US PGA Championship.

Ockie Strydom PGA Championship 2023

The South African did not have playing privileges on the DP World Tour at the start of the season but victories at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and Singapore Classic have him sat inside the top ten on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, although it has not always been an easy road to the top.

He claimed his first victory on the South African Challenge Tour in 2012 and added ten more over the next four years, while also claiming 14 runner-up finishes on the Sunshine Tour before sealing his first win in 2019.

A further five second-places on the South African circuit would follow before his win at Leopard Creek but now, during a stunning breakthrough season at the age of 38, he finds himself at golf's top table.

"I just want to take the experience and atmosphere, being in America at my my first Major. I’m living the dream at the moment," he said.

"It’s like Billy Horschel was standing behind me, just walked past and I was like ‘Okay, it’s nice to see him’.

"It’s something new for me but it’s like a normal tournament. I’m just going to go out and enjoy myself. Major is just a name at the back of the tournament, but I’m very much looking forward to it at the moment. 

"It’s a little bit bigger with 5,000 or 6,000 people in a practice round. I presume it’s going to be big, but I treat it as a normal tournament for me. 

"I’ve worked my arse off for this stuff and it took me 15 years to be where I am at the moment so if the horse is riding you climb on and you go for it. 

"It’s always been a goal to play in Majors, I’ve achieved it this year now. I’m taking baby steps, learning more from each tournament that I play, and hopefully we get used to it for the future.

"Like most of the people that are new, they try and rush into the tournament because it’s a Major and you want to do everything on point. I’m just trying to steady myself, be the same guy, take deep breaths and just calm my body."

Oak Hill Country Club is expected to provide a stern test for the world's best this week, with the rough a particular topic conversation, and Strydom knows his play with the driver will be vital.

"Sometimes I wonder if I’ve got shoes on in there," he said of the rough.

"The driver is important around this course. The fairways are narrow but not that narrow, it runs off quite a bit either side left or right so you’ve got to be precise where you want to land it. 

"The fairways are quite firm as well so it runs another 30 or 40 yards, so dialling in the driver for certain shots I need to do is going to be important this week."

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