Christiaan Bezuidenhout has come full circle after winning his way to The Open courtesy of a brilliant week at the Andulucia Masters.
‘It’s amazing,’ he said. ‘It’s been my goal in this three-week stretch to qualify for The Open and to do it in the first week is fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the tournament starting, it’s going to be special.
‘I love to play in front of big crowds. The crowds here have been amazing and they will be even bigger there.
‘It’s been a dream since I started playing golf to play in a Major Championship and to play The Open, which is my favourite Major, just makes it even more special.’
The young South African will return to the scene of the darkest moment of his career next month after earning a place in the field at The Open Championship.
Bezuidenhout will be heading to Northern Ireland alongside Adri Arnaus and Mike Lorenzo-Vera after the three men qualified for the season’s final Major Championship at Valderrama, but Bezuidenhout will not be making his first appearance at Royal Portrush.
It was at that venue during the 2014 Amateur Championship that Bezuidenhout failed a doping test that would put him out of the game for nine months.
He was taking beta blockers to help with the stutter he developed after mistakenly drinking rat poison as a child and, while he declared that fact during his test, the adverse finding resulted in a two-year ban.
That was reduced to nine months after officials adjudged Bezuidenhout had not been seeking any advantage in his performance but the damage was already done as he had missed out on representing his country at the Eisenhower Trophy.
‘I just broke down,’ he wrote in the European Tour’s Player Blog ahead of finishing in a tie for second at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
‘It was awful. I had spent my whole amateur career working to get into that Eisenhower side to represent my nation; it was a huge goal of mine to be selected in the team. To be told two days before the event that I couldn’t go because of a two-year drugs ban was simply too much for me to take in. It felt like my life was over.’