He might have been the last man into the Investec Cup field, but Christiaan Bezuidenhout sucked the marrow out of his opportunity in the first round of the tournament at Millvale Private Retreat on Wednesday.
His scorecard showed two-over-par 74, and that left him seven strokes behind the leader George Coetzee, but he was not intimidated by that sort of gap with so much time left in the tournament.
“I’m not out of it at two-over with three rounds still to go,” said Bezuidenhout. “There are lots of birdie chances here if you’re hitting the fairways. I must just capitalise on the chances, and that’s what I didn’t do today.”
He was pleased to get into the 16-man field, as he was ranked 17th in the year-long Chase to the Investec Cup. He was only included when third-placed Charl Schwartzel withdrew to concentrate on his US campaign ahead of the Masters next month, paving the way for the man who is a rookie on the Sunshine Tour.
“To be here is just fantastic,” said Bezuidenhout. “It’s a great feeling to be here playing against the best players on the Sunshine Tour in my first year on the tour.”
Like most of the players, he did not get a good look at the course. “It was my first time playing on the course yesterday in my practice round,” he said. “It’s the best course I’ve played to date. It’s in fantastic condition. The greens are as pure as can be, and all round, the course is just fantastic.
“I played my last few holes in my practice round yesterday in the rain, so I couldn’t really map the course out as I would have liked to. But I played alright today. There were just two loose shots in there and the putter just didn’t work.”
He’ll be looking to convert some of those birdie chances for the rest of the tournament, in an attempt to climb as high as he can in the rankings and to claim as big a share as he can of the R10-million Bonus Pool which is up for grabs.