As an amateur in 2012 Christiaan Bezuidenhout was asked what motto he lives by. ‘Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase!’ he answered. Four years later he’s climbing the steps two at a time.
The 22-year-old’s maiden victory at the Sun Fish River Challenge in October helped define his rookie season as one of the best in Sunshine Tour history. In 10 months on the circuit he’s made eight of 13 cuts, recorded five top 10s, and ranks sixth on the Order of Merit.
His nickname ‘Rambo’ hints at fiery emotions, but Bezuidenhout is a quiet character, due largely to his stutter. He’s a no-fuss player with a steady temperament that matches his game.
In December 2015 the Delmas local rolled in a 15-foot eagle putt at the 18th of Bloemfontein Golf Club to win the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and secure his playing rights for the coming season.
First up on the calendar was the SA Open, where he shot a final-round 67 at Glendower Golf Club for second place behind Brandon Stone. Tournament host Ernie Els wrapped his arms around the two youngsters and announced, ‘This is the future of South African golf!’
Bezuidenhout proved The Big Easy right with further top 10s at the Zimbabwe Open, Origins of Golf Wild Coast and Arabella, and finally by lifting the trophy at Fish River Sun Country Club.
His route to victory wasn’t smooth and his nerves were tested by trouble going into the back nine.
‘I had a good turn with birdies on eight and nine,’ said Bezuidenhout. ‘Then the stretch from 10 to 14 was as tough as I’ve ever played this course. I knew if I could get that out of the way without too much damage, I’d be OK.’
He took a double bogey at the 10th and bogeys on the 11th and 12th, but made a crucial eagle on the 16th for the outright lead, then birdied the 18th for a two-shot victory over Danie van Tonder.
‘With 16 playing downwind, all I had to do was find the fairway,’ said Bezuidenhout. ‘I hit a great three-wood down there and hit a seven-iron to about two feet and made the eagle. I told myself to just hang on at that point.’
The young champion served a nine-month ban for using beta blockers as an amateur, which he took to help with his intense stutter. He was ‘benched’ for half of last year and paid his dues.
This season he’s proved it’s not doping, but raw talent that makes him so good.
‘One of my goals was definitely to win an event,’ he concluded. ‘I’ve had a few chances so far and just couldn’t get the job done, so I’m glad to tick the box now.’