Bezuidenhout goes back-to-back to bag SA Open title

South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout followed up his win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship by capturing the SA Open title at Sun City. Picture: Getty Images

“Every South African golfer dreams of lifting this trophy and now I have joined so many illustrious names that are engraved on it.”

Christian Bezuidenhout became the first back-to-back winner on the European Tour since Justin Rose from England in 2017 when he lifted the South African Open trophy at Sun City on Sunday.

The 26-year-old South African carded a final round 69 for a total of 270 and a five-shot victory over Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, who also finished with a 69 at the Gary Player Country Club.

Bezuidenhout won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa last weekend with four sub-70 rounds and repeated the feat in the second oldest national golf championship in the world after the British Open.

It was the third consecutive victory by a South African in the event with Bezuidenhout emulating Branden Grace and major winner Louis Oosthuizen.

The final leaderboard this year was dominated by South Africans with Dylan Frittelli (71) third, Dean Burmester (71) fourth and JC Ritchie (72) fifth.

“It is an unbelievable feeling to win the South African Open,” said Bezuidenhout after three rounds of 67 and a closing 69 in northwestern South Africa.

“Every South African golfer dreams of lifting this trophy and now I have joined so many illustrious names that are engraved on it.

“I did not have a good front nine, bogeyed eight, turned one over and had my five-shot overnight lead trimmed to just two.

“But three birdies from 10 did the trick, gave me some breathing space and I heeded the advice of my caddie to be patient and not take unnecessary risks.”

Bezuidenhout took what his caddie said to heart by parring five of the remaining six holes and picking up a birdie at 16.

The recipe for success of the South African includes straight driving, reaching greens in regulation and if birdie putts do not drop, they are generally tap-ins for par.

At Sun City this week, he birdied 21 holes and bogeyed only three, with two of those coming at the par-three third.

Donaldson, seeking a first European Tour win since the 2014 Czech Masters, fought bravely and claimed six birdies, but he also bogeyed three holes, with three putts at 17 ending any faint hope of a miracle win.

Frittelli, joint fifth at the Masters last month, parred 15 holes, birdied two and bogeyed one when he needed a round in the mid-60s to pose a serious threat.

The South African Open was the last of three European Tour events in the country and the season concludes with the World Tour Championship in Dubai, starting Thursday.

LEADING SCORES

270 – Christiaan Bezuidenhout 67-67-67-69

275 – Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 71-63-72-69

277 – Dylan Frittelli 68-68-70-71

278 – Dean Burmester 67-69-71-71

279 – JC Ritchie 70-71-66-72

280 – Hennie du Plessis 70-70-68-72, Marcel Siem (GER) 74-68-68-70, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 72-69-67-72

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