It didn’t take long for Christiaan Bezuidenhout to get noticed after he won the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit and this week he will tee up at the $5-million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship courtesy of a sponsor’s invitation.
It’s a real treat for the 21-year-old, who will play Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, and The Old Course at St. Andrews, each for one round, before the 54-hole cut is made.
Nine months ago it was a very different story for Bezuidenhout, who missed Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and had to play the Big Easy Tour via invitation.
That development tour gave him the chance to compete and he made the most of his opportunities, winning twice during the regular season.
At the 30-man Tour Championship he finished the week tied for the lead, but had to settle for second place after losing in a playoff with Daniel Hammond.
This week Bezuidenhout faces a much bigger stage and will join a field that includes Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Luke Donald, Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer.
The youngster will need to fall back on the experience that he gained while playing the development tour in South Africa, which aims to prepare future stars under tournament conditions. The two-day events that he competed in were designed to simulate the trial of making the cut, which will certainly his goal for the coming week in Scotland.
The tournament will be a learning experience, but Bezuidenhout is likely to use it well, because he’s been prepped for the task throughout his season on the Big Easy Tour.