He’s three shots off the lead ahead of the final round of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School for 2016, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout fancies his chances after firing a six-under-par 66 on Friday at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
After two days on the other course on which the opening four rounds were played, Schoeman Park, Bezuidenhout found his scoring touch, leaving him in third place behind leader Stuart Smith of Botswana, and one shot behind the man in second, Jack Harrison of England.
“Bloemfontein is a better layout for me,” said Bezuidenhout. “Schoeman Park has got a lot of doglegs. You have to hit it in the right places, and Bloemfontein is in better condition than Schoeman. If you hit fairways and greens here, you can make a good score here.”
Those three players lead 61 of the original 272 into the final race for 30 Sunshine Tour cards, a select group which includes 12 amateurs and is made up of players from 14 countries.
Things didn’t start too promisingly for Bezuidenhout after he teed off on the 10th, as he made bogey on the 12th, but he brought it back with a birdie on 14. His round suddenly got going when he made eagle on the 18th ahead of the turn, and he picked up four more birdies on his way in.
“Since yesterday, I started to hit more greens and give myself chances,” he said. “The putter worked nicely the last two days. The first two rounds when I shot 70 and 71, I didn’t hit enough greens to make a score, and on courses like these, you have to hit the greens. Around the greens, it’s very dry so it’s tough to get up and down from there. So if you only hit eight or nine greens, that’s going to show in your score. But I scrambled well in the first two rounds, and in the last two rounds, I just played normal solid golf.”
Also playing solid golf after his stellar 62 in the third round was Smith. He had an up-and-down journey over his opening nine, which, like Bezuidenhout’s, started on 10 at Bloemfontein. Four birdies were countered by a bogey and a double as he turned in one-under 35. But he kept things on an even keel on the way in, picking up one more birdie to finish two clear of Harrison.
“From that double-bogey, I just thought, let’s stay patient and not try to force the game, and going one-under through the last 10 holes in conditions that were quite breezy is exactly what I needed,” said Smith.
He will be going for the win in the final round. “Winning is on my mind,” he said. “Winning mean’s you’re first on the list to get into tournaments, but I also want to do it for myself to give myself a bit of confidence going into next year.”
Harrison brings a hot putter and a competitive attitude to the party. “It should be interesting tomorrow,” he said with a smile.
And Bezuidenhout brings an equally strong desire to win. “Tomorrow, I just want to do the same and give myself chances again and take it from there. I was playing like I know I can these last two days, so I’m confident for the final round,” he said.