Eagle at last seals Bezuidenhout’s victory

2015  Sunshine Tour Q School: Final RoundIt took an eagle at the last, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout calmly rolled in the 15-footer on Saturday to snatch the honours in the 2016 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Bloemfontein Golf Club.

That snatched victory by one stroke from the grasp of England’s Jack Harrison, who had held the lead almost throughout the final round. Andre de Dekker was three shots back in third, Botswana’s Stuart Smith was fourth and Zimbabwean Greg Bentley finished fifth.

“I really just wanted to finish in the top 30,” said Bezuidenhout, “so I’m thrilled to have won, and to have done it with an eagle on the last hole – well, that makes it more special.”

He started the tough week – the tournament was played over 90 holes on Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club – with a level-par 72, and followed that with a one-under in his second round.

“After that, I was something like 14 shots off the lead,” he said, “so I’m very proud to have shot 65-66-66 to win the tournament.”

Harrison started fast with a birdie on two and an eagle on three, and even though he made bogeys on four and six, two more birdies saw him through the turn in three-under 33, while Bezuidenhout was two-under.

The South African edged a little closer with a birdie on 10, and then he and Harrison matched each other shot for shot until the par-five 18th. Harrison put his approach in the greenside bunker, while Bezuidenhout stuck his to 15 feet.

Harrison had a four-footer for birdie to match Bezuidenhout’s 20-under-par total, but he pulled it slightly and that let Bezuidenhout through the door.

“He was too good for me,” said Harrison generously afterwards. “That’s some temperament.”

The tournament produced some interesting graduates: Callie Swart was the oldest to earn his card at 49, while the youngest was 18-year-old Ruan Pretorius, son of former Free State cricketer, the fast bowler Nico Pretorius.

There were five amateur who inside the top 30 and ties who earned their cards – Ireland’s Jeff Hopkins, Pretorius, Jason Viljoen, Neal Herman and Teaghan Gauche.

And there were players from 10 countries getting a chance to ply their trade on the Sunshine Tour.

For Bezuidenhout, it caps an extraordinary year, during which he came back from a nine-month ban for inadvertently contravening the doping regulations, he won two tournaments and the Order of Merit on the Big Easy Tour, and got invitations to play in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour and the Alfred Dunhill Championship on the Sunshine Tour.

“I’m going to rest for a week or two, and then start getting ready for the BMW South African Open championship,” he said.

 

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