Bezuidenhout powers to first in SA

Ekurhuleni’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout lived up to his star billing when he ascended to the number one spot in the South African Golf Association (SAGA) rankings on Monday.

The Nigel golfer kicked off his season with victory at the Eastern Province Stroke Play in March, but it was his breakout victory at the Western Province Amateur in April that really caused South African golf aficionados to sit up and take notice.

After a fairly humdrum season in 2012, the 19-year-old really needed a shove to get going again and the unprecedented triumph proved exactly what the doctor ordered.

After defeating number one Haydn Porteous for the Stroke Play title, Bezuidenhout dismissed fellow Ekurhuleni golfer NJ Arnoldi 2 & 1 to win the Match Play title to become only the fifth player in the history of the Western Province Amateur Championships to complete the elusive double.

The victory also vaulted the 19-year-old to third in the SAGA rankings and he cemented his spot in the top three with a fifth place finish at the KwaZulu-Natal Amateur a month later.

When Porteous joined the pro ranks in July, Bezuidenhout slotted into second behind Zander Lombard and immediately signalled his intention to run for the top spot when he clinched the Limpopo Open title two weeks later.

The Nigel golfer further reduced the gap with a tie for third at the Southern Cape Championship in August and knocked Lombard off his perch when he claimed a one stroke victory in the Mpumalanga Stroke Play Championship on Sunday.

The move to number one followed just days after his selection to the four-man team that will represent South Africa at the prestigious biennial Spirit Invitational in Texas later this year.

Although his journey this season and his arrival at number one hints that Bezuidenhout could be ready for the major leagues, the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member quickly cautioned against whispers of the paid ranks.

“I set myself the goal of getting a couple of victories under the belt at the start of the season, but the number one spot was in the back of my mind,” he said. “But, after winning the Western Province Amateur, it definitely became my goal. It is quite amazing when you set yourself a goal, work towards it and reach it. You forget about all the hard work, long hours and sacrifices in an instant.”

Although proud of the fact that he has reached the top, he still has a few goals to achieve.

“Long term, I would like to establish myself on the pro circuit, but that is still a couple of years down the track,” he explained. “I would like to win a few more events. I’d like to play the Big Easy Tour again and then there is the South African Open Championship later this year.

“Hopefully I can also hold on for a spot on the Eisenhower team next year.”
His immediately goal, however, is to help Ekurhuleni get back in the A-Division at this year’s SA Inter-Provincial.

Bezuidenhout’s wingmen will include Arnoldi, who launched to fifth in the SAGA rankings with a runner-up finish at the Mpumalanga Open on Sunday, Free State Open winner Jason Froneman, top ranked junior Kyle McClatchie, as well as Angus Ellis Cole, Donovan Pearce, Ernest Botha and Stephan Cronje.

“We have been battling to get ourselves back in the A-Division since we were relegated in 2008, but I believe we have the firing power to make it happen this year,” the youngster said.

“They are a great bunch of guys. We have a really strong team spirit and we are very determined to fight for promotion this year.”

The 53rd South African Inter-Provincial Championship tees of at Rustenburg Golf Club from 23-27 September 2013.

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