Bezuidenhout shows class at St Andrews
South Africa’s top-ranked amateur, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, weathered tough international competition to claim a top 50 finish at the prestigious St Andrews Links Trophy in Scotland on Sunday.
The lanky Ekurhuleni golfer vied for glory alongside seven fellow South Africans in the top ranked international championship at the Old and New Courses at St Andrews, including reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence, SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith, Zander Lombard, NJ Arnoldi, Louis Taylor, James du Preez and Louisiana Tech University student, Victor Lange.
However, Bezuidenhout was the lone South African to survive a record low cut, set at 143, that culled the field to 46 players fighting for position in the final two rounds.
The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member opened with a one-under-par 70 at the New Course and erased two bogeys with a pair of birdies for an even-par 72 in wet conditions at the Old Course to make the cut on the nose.
After labouring in the rain for two rounds, the players welcomed the sunny conditions on Sunday, but the gusting wind that swept across the Old Course Links at 40 kilometers an hour harshly diminished their scoring opportunities at the challenging Open Championship layout.
The 19-year-old from Nigel Golf Club managed to reduce the damage of a double bogey and bogey on each nine with a pair of birdies for a four over 76 in the third round.
In his final loop around the Old Course, he bogeyed the par-three eighth but got back to even-par with a birdie at the 10th. After a triple bogey at the par-three 11 and bogeys at the 13th and 16th, Bezuidenhout redeemed himself with a birdie-birdie finish to finish 41st on six-over-par 293.
Meanwhile Scotland’s Bradley Neil – a joint runner-up at the South African Golf Association’s SA Stroke Play Championship at Benoni Country Club in February – fired a superb final-round 68 to set the clubhouse target at nine-under-par 278.
However, Scotland’s top ranked amateur Grant Forrest birdied the 18th for a final round 71 to tie Neil and claimed the title when he holed a 25-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole.
Forrest became the first Scot to win the prestigious Links Trophy since Keir McNicoll in 2008.
“Winning the Scottish amateur was big for me, but I think because of the strength of the field here this has to be the best,” the Scottish Boys champion in 2010 and Scottish amateur champion said during the prize giving.
“I’ve only been back from the US for two weeks and I thought I would take a little more time to acclimatise but it’s great to win back at home.”
Bezuidenhout, Lombard, Lawrence, Taylor, Arnoldi and Smith will line up for South Africa in a test against a Scottish Golf Union side before they travel to Country Antrim for the prestigious Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart from 16-21 June.
Selected Final Results
278 Grant Forrest (SCO) 66-68-73-71 (play-off win)
278 Bradley Neil (SCO) 68-71-71-68
293 Christiaan Bezuidenhout 70-72-76-75
144 Victor Lange 72-72; Thriston Lawrence 68-76
145 Zander Lombard 70-75
149 Louis Taylor75-74; James du Preez 71-78
156 Jason Smith 79-77
157 NJ Arnoldi 77-80
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.