In a tournament won – for the first time on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson did it 33 years ago – by amateur Nick Dunlap, Bezuidenhout’s four-round tally of 28-under-par reflected both his own skill and readiness for the 2024 PGA Tour season, as well as the inherent unsuitability of the course for professional play.
But the course was the same for everyone, and was what Bezuidenhout had in front of him to play. His 138-yard eagle on the par-four 15th took him into a position to push for victory. He birdied just the 18th of the final three holes, and that left him one stroke off the pace of Dunlap, even though he had made four other birdies and not dropped a shot.
“That eagle kick-started my back nine,” said Bezuidenhout. “Although I don’t feel I had my full game today, I still managed to score. The whole week I really putted well. I made some great putts coming in as well.”
He was one stroke clear of Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Korea’s Kevin Yu in third, and a further two shots ahead of Americans Michael Kim and Sam Burns, and Canadian Adam Hadwin who had a share of sixth on 25-under-par.
In Bezuidenhout’s first outing of the 2024 PGA Tour season, he climbed to eighth place on the early FedEx Cup rankings, and took home the winning share of the prize-fund which Dunlap as an amateur couldn’t – a whopping $1.512-million, or nearly R29-million.
Erik van Rooyen closed with a five-under-par 67 to reach 19-under for the tournament and a share of 25th place.
World number one Scottie Scheffler also had a closing 65, and, at 21-under, could only manage a share of 17th.
Said Bezuidenhout afterwards: “I love this week. This is my third time playing here. I always like to start my year here. Everything about this place, the weather, the people, the golf courses that we play on, all the courses are just in great condition and it’s just a joy to be here.”