Winners eye repeat glory at Sanlam Cape Province Open

Six provincial open championships winners this season will be hunting for repeat success at the Sanlam Cape Province Open from 28-30 March.

The country’s number one ranked amateur, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, will lead the 126-man field at two of the Garden Route’s top golf courses, George Golf Club and Kingswood Estate Golf Estate.

Already a winner this season after an emphatic six-stroke victory in the Free State Open last month, the Ekurhuleni golfer made a stellar comeback in the North West Open at the weekend and is coming into the Cape Province Open event in hot form.

Bezuidenhout hovered midway up the leaderboard after a disappointing 74 in the first round, but the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member fought back with rounds of 66, 68 and 70 to finish in sixth place, just four shots off the pace from eventual winner, James du Preez.

Du Preez defeated seasoned veteran Gerlou Roux from Western Province in a play-off at Rustenburg Golf Club for the North West Open title and is bringing his winning form to the Southern Cape.

The Gauteng North golfer was pleased to celebrate his recent return to competitive golf with a victory.

“It was very tough to be out of the game for five months last year with the wrist surgery, and then to fight my way back to the winner’s circle,” said the 18-year-old Du Preez.

Bezuidenhout and Du Preez will also encounter opposition from Thriston Lawrence.

The SA number three lifted the KwaZulu-Natal Stroke Play title in January, defended his Sanlam SA Amateur Match Play title in March and came close to a third title in Rustenburg.

The 17-year-old Mpumalanga golfer comes into the event on the back of a third place finish at the North West Open, where he finished just one off the pace from Du Preez and Roux.

NJ Arnoldi, Jason Smith and Hendrickus Stoop are also shooting for second wins.

Nigel’s Arnoldi followed success at the Prince’s Grant Invitational with a tie for third at the Gauteng North Stroke Play, a top 10 finish at the Sanlam SA Amateur Qualifier and another top 10 in Rustenburg.

Gauteng North’s Smith followed his South African Stroke Play Championship triumph with a tie for second at the EP Border Stroke Play, but has struggled with a couple of unsatisfactory finishes of late.

The Irene golfer is desperate to turn his form around ahead of his debut for South Africa in the Zone VI Tournament coming up in April, and Stoop has the same song in mind.

The Centurion player beat Bryce McCabe, Jade Buitendag, Du Preez and Smith by two shots to win the

Eastern Province Border Stroke Play last month, but has struggled with form since. A top 20 finish at the North West Open has Stoop left excited again.

However, the field should be wary of Roux.

The former professional was smarting after his play-off lost in Rustenburg, especially after leading through the second and third rounds. Roux will be prowling for revenge, and with top 10s in two Southern Cape events last year, could pose a real challenge.

Southern Cape Golf Union Order of Merit leader Nicholas Mitchell will lead the local challenge alongside side the rest of the top five Southern Cape players, including Stafie Barnard, Ivan Williams, Jacques Cloete and Ian Norgarb.

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