Bezuidenhout 3 back at halfway in low-scoring American Express

Jan 20, 2024 | Featured, South Africans abroad

The problem PGA Tour events present in evaluating the true skills of players, and the consequent skewing of Official World Golf Ranking points allocated, was laid bare on Thursday as Christiaan Bezuidenhout slipped two places to a share of fifth at 14-under-par after the second round of The American Express in La Quinta, California.

Extraordinarily, after Bezuidenhout’s five-under-par 67 which was added to his superb 63 opener, he was three strokes behind the leader, Sam Burns. Burns had an 11-under-par 61 to move to 17-under and a one-stroke lead over American compatriot Michael Kim who had an eight-under 63. Amateur Nick Dunlap of the United States and Korea’s KH Lee shared third on 15-under after rounds of 65 and 64 respectively. Bezuidenhout shared fifth with Patrick Cantlay, Eric Cole, Adam Hadwin, Si Woo Kim and Alex Noren.

The problem with such low scores is that an extraordinarily high number of professionals – on any international tour – are capable of going low when the conditions are benign and when easy course setup plays into the hands of big hitters.

In the end, the reality is that someone who manages to go low enough in those circumstances is rewarded with world ranking points that are not commensurate with his true ability, or with the way he stacks up against professionals on other tours that are not allocated points that are as excessively weighted in their favour.

With the cut coming only after the third round in this pro-am format played on three courses – the Pete Dye Stadium Course, La Quinta Country Club and the Nicklaus Tournament Course – the 11 players currently in a share of 89th place after 36 holes are on six-under-par and would have missed the cut.

Amongst those players is Garrick Higgo, who should justifiably feel as if he has hardly put a foot wrong after two consecutive rounds of 69, but is 11 shots off the pace.

The other South African in the field is Erik van Rooyen. He’s in a share of 26th on 11-under-par after he added a five-under 67 to his opening 66. He’s six shots behind the leader.

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