Christiaan Bezuidenhout came into the Alfred Dunhill Championship this week as the highest-ranking (61st) South African player in the official world ranking, and solidified that status emphatically on Sunday, as he dazzled to a three-under 69 round and earn a four-stroke win at 14-under-par 247.
Following back-to-back rounds of 68 plus the 69 he carded on day one, Bezuidenhout was just three shots off the lead when he stepped on to the first tee on Sunday and despite an unwelcome double-bogey and a bogey on the par-three seventh and the eighth holes respectively, Bezuidenhout had played himself to just one off the lead at the turn.
He switched things on coming home, and the result was a blemish-free 34 on that stretch, finishing at three-under for a 14-under-par total, four shots clear of England’s Richard Bland, American Sean Crocker, Pole Adrian Meronk and South African teenage sensation Jayden Schaper. This marks Bezuidenhout’s second international victory this year after he claimed the Dimension Data Pro-Am, co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour nd the Sunshine Tour, early in February.
Moreover, Sunday’s win also marked Bezuidenhout’s second win on the European Tour. His only win on that circuit up until this week had been that famous victory he claimed at the 2019 Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation which also handed him a major debut at the Open Championship.
“It’s incredible,” he said after a brilliant week in Malelane. “This tournament has been close to my heart since I played it for the first time. It’s always been a tournament I wanted to win and to pull it off today is really, really special to me. I’m proud of myself to stick in there and to have pulled it off round here.
“I played with Louis (Oosthuizen) and Charl (Schwartzel) in a practice round at Augusta and they said you can’t play this course the way you played it with the previous grass on it. I never thought of it that way and I just came here with a different frame of mind and I played it like it’s playing now – firm and fast.”
Bezuidenhout’s triumph at Leopard Creek throws him in the elite class of players who have claimed wins at the famous track, a list which includes major winners such as Charl Schwartzel, reigning SA Open champion Branden Grace and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal to name a few. Fresh from a solid debut appearance at the Masters and strong T15 placing at Randpark just last week, Bezuidenhout has certainly proven his worth as a winning competitor.
By Matthews Mfubu