“You always find the amateurs at the bottom of the leader board in these kinds of events, so I just started at the bottom and worked my way up,” the reigning Nomads SA Boys U-17 champions remarked.
“There are 207 professionals in the field this week, so I was very relieved to find that I didn’t disgrace myself. It was nice to see that Tristen (Strydom) also did well at the West Course.”
Naidoo’s strong finish handed him a seat in the 24-man bus at 88th position while Strydom finished in a 24-strong group at two-under 69 and both players found themselves in some esteemed company.
Strydom tied for 64th alongside four-time European Tour winner Gregory Bourdy from France and 13-time Sunshine Tour champion Jaco van Zyl.
Naidoo’s group included European Tour winners Mikael Lundberg from Sweden, Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and reigning Investec Cup champion Trevor Fisher Jnr.
The young gun admitted his nerves spoiled his start, but was pleased that he managed to settle down and fight his way back into the tournament.
Naidoo hit a superb flop-shot to fly the bunker at the par-five and boxed a 25-foot putt for birdie. He notched four pars in a row and took care of the deficit with birdies at the 15th and 16th.
Earlier this season, the teenager lined up in the victorious six-man SA Junior Squad that defeated a junior French side in two-day Test at St Francis Links and contributed to a third successive victory for the South African Golf Association’s Junior Team in the annual International Triangular against the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and a team from the Scottish Golf Union at Wanderers Golf Club in February.
Naidoo gained a lot of experience last year when he represented South Africa in the Italian U-16 Championship and underlined his status as one the country’s rising stars with a top 30 finish at the Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego, California and a top 10 finish at the US Kids Golf Teen World Championship at Pinehurst’s Number Eight in North Carolina.