13th February 2020 | Sunshine Tour
Red-hot Bezuidenhout blitzes to Fancourt lead
Christiaan Bezuidenhout got off to a flying start in this year’s edition of the Dimension Data Pro-Am, firing in a flawless 11-under-par 61 opening round on the Outeniqua golf course at Fancourt.
He made back-to-back birdies on the first two holes, then a par and then another birdie. Two more birdies – one after the other – made it onto his card as he turned in 31 and blemish-free. He didn’t relent on the back nine, making two more birdies on the trot on the 10th and 11th holes. Those were followed by a par on the 12th before another birdie arrived. A hole later, Bezuidenhout was at it again, birdieing the 15th, 17th and 18th holes to sign for a bogey-free 61.
“Outeniqua has proven to be a scorable course over the years,” said Bezuidenhout, “and it was important to get a great start and, luckily, I did it and I just kept going. There’s a little bit of pressure there because it’s almost expected that you should score well there.
“If you walk off a scorable course with a two-under or level-par, you know you’ve got work to do on the tougher courses. It’s always at the back of your mind that you should do well on the easier course. Once you do that, you take a bit of the pressure off your shoulder going into the next three days.”
Close up on Bezuidenhout’s heels, is Spain’s Santiago Tarrio Ben who signed for a nine-under 63 on the Montagu layout.
Ernie Els who is making his debut appearance in this 25-year old tournament, along with Zimbabwe’s Stephen Ferreira shot eight-under 64. Like Bezuidenhout, ‘The Big Easy’ was just as impressive on the Outeniqua track. He, too, opened his round back-to-back birdies and after five straight pars, two more birdies went onto his card to turn in 32.
He made further gains at the turn, making it three birdies in a row. After six straight pars, Els made an eagle and closed off with a birdie to sign for an untainted 64.
“It was really nice today,” said Els who boasts 71 professional victories in a glittering career. “I’ve played this course many times and I’ve been coming to Fancourt for 30 years. It’s the kind of course that, at my age, I can play. It’s almost like a (PGA) Champions Tour layout. Good drives and a lot of irons to the flags. I played nicely and those last two putts, obviously, made my day.
“The experience here so far has been great. I’ve never played this event and when I looked at my schedule a couple of weeks ago, I said to Jeremy (Ord) ‘I will be in South Africa, can you give me a spot?’ and he said ‘sure’. So, it’s my first time playing this tournament in 25 years of history.”
Ferreira, who played on the Montagu layout, made nine birdies and a single bogey during his opening round at Fancourt.
Tying fifth on the score of seven-under 65 is Haydn Porteous, Germany’s Marcel Siem, 2016 winner of this tournament George Coetzee, Jean Hugo, the in-form JC Ritchie, Daniel Hillier of New Zealand and rookie, Deon Germishuys.