Bezuidenhout romps to SA Open triumph

Dec 6, 2020 | Featured, Sunshine Tour

In the end it was a canter for Christiaan Bezuidenhout as he romped to a five-stroke victory in the 100th South African Open Championship on Sunday at Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.

He took a five-stroke edge into the final round, and, for a while as he battled on the front nine in the final round, it looked as if he could be caught. But he reeled off three consecutive birdies from the 10th to the 12th which effectively slammed the door in the face of Wales’ Jamie Donaldson who finished in second on 13-under-par after a closing three-under 69.

“It’s unbelievable to stand here with the SA Open win,” said Bezuidenhout. “It’s any South African golfer’s dream to win the national open. I fought hard today. On the front nine, things didn’t really go my way. I just dug deep to come out with the win today.”

Digging deep had to start during that run of seven consecutive pars with which he opened, but if had to be part of what could have ended up an emergency rescue operation after he made bogey on eight after splitting the fairway with his tee shot over the water and leaving himself with just 160 to the flag.

“My second shot on eight just caught a gust and it came up short. That was a massive bogey-save for me there,” he said of the 15-footer he made to stop the rot. “My caddie said to me there that I should just stay patient and try and shoot under par on the back nine and that should take care of it.”

He regathered himself with a par on nine – the 18th to those who know the course in its Nedbank Golf Challenge configuration – and then he showed just why he is that good that he will move up to number 35 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

He hit his approach stiff on the 10th and made a big second putt on 11 after a stunning three-wood approach on the par-five just went through the green and his first putt from the fringe was weak. Then he holed a great one on 12 to get enough daylight between himself and Donaldson to make the rest of the round all but academic as he coasted home.

“Those birdies on 10 11 and 12 were massive,” he said. “I’d say that second putt on 11 was huge and obviously that putt on 12 was a bonus. I just tried to guide it to get it close inside a couple of feet and I made it. So I knew I just needed to make pars coming in and I did it.”

Another birdie – this one from the fringe – on the 16th, which turned nearly four feet on its way into the right-hand side of the hole, was enough for him to visibly relax. Even a wayward tee shot on 17, which bounced on the cart path, hit a tree on its way to bushveld oblivion, hit the cart path again and settled in the left rough, could not unsettle him as he made par on that and a safe par on 18 to seal his second win in two weeks on the European Tour.

In third place was Dylan Frittelli who imply could not get things going in his final round of one-under-par 71, while Dean Burmester in fourth also carded a scrappy 71. JC Ritchie capped a week after eight consecutive missed cuts on the Sunshine Tour with a level-par 72 to finish fifth.

For Bezuidenhout, the trip to Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship will be a sweet one as he heads into the season-ending week in fifth place on the Race to Dubai. He may not be amongst the favourites for the win, but he showed he has the game to win just about anything, anywhere.

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