Bezuidenhout delivers reminder of his quality

Jun 20, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

While there has correctly been much made of two of South Africa’s young golfers making waves internationally recently, a third has been left out of the conversation, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout is putting that right as he heads into the final round of the US Open Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.

Bezuidenhout sits at one-under-par for the championship after 54 holes, just four off the lead, after he signed for his second-successive one-under-par 70 on Saturday. That makes him the second-best South African in the field after co-leader Louis Oosthuizen – in a week where Garrick Higgo missed the cut, and Wilco Nienaber slumped to a third-round 80 to be at 13-over in 71st.

And while the 27-year-old was supplanted by Higgo as South Africa’s second-best golfer after the left-hander’s maiden PGA Tour win last week, Bezuidenhout is still ranked 46th in the world and his game has stood up to the challenges posed by the US Open.

He won’t change a thing going into the final round: “I like where my game plan is at,” he said. “Middle of greens are never going to hurt you on most of the holes. You just give yourself chances. That’s a big thing at a US Open and especially here. Just give yourself chances.”

A solid final round will certainly underline Bezuidenhout’s status as one of the best young golfers in the world. If American pundits believe that world number one Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele – all on one-under in a share of ninth with Bezuidenhout – are in with a chance of winning at this point, they certainly should be looking closely at the South African’s chances.

Part of what makes his chances good can be found in the statistics which show just how accurate he is. In the third round, he hit nine of 14 fairways, and that 64 percent success rate put him in eighth in the field. That’s important when shots that just miss the fairways can often disappear in the thick rough which is just on the edge of the fairways. And he hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation to lead the field on that list. That sets him up with more chances to pick up strokes than anyone else in the field.

Bezuidenhout knows his own abilities, and he likes his chances. “I can definitely make a move up the leaderboard if I keep hitting it like I did today,” he said. “I was driving it well today. If I can hit it like that and just make a couple more putts, then yeah, we can finish off.”

He tees off at 9pm South African time, paired with Schauffele.

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