Christiaan Bezuidenhout won his first European Tour title in emphatic style with a six shot victory at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation.
The South African came into the final day at Real Club Valderrama with a five shot lead and while he saw that trimmed to three at one point, a closing 71 saw him finish at ten under par, to become only the third different player to lift the trophy after Graeme McDowell (2010), and tournament host Sergio Garcia (2011, 2017, 2018).
The victory also secures Bezuidenhout a Major Championship debut at The Open in two weeks, alongside Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and local favourite Adri Arnaus.
Bezuidenhout’s victory completes a remarkable rise for a player who has had to overcome adversity since a young age. At the age of two he mistakenly drank rat poison, an incident that led to him developing a stammer that caused him to suffer anxiety.
The beta blockers he took to combat his stammer led to him failing a doping test at the 2014 Amateur Championship and while his two year ban was reduced to nine months after officials adjudged he had not been seeking to gain a competitive advantage, he missed out on representing his country at the Eisenhower Trophy.
Now five years on from those dark days, he is a European Tour winner in his 57th appearance and moves into the top ten of the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex after two other top three finishes this season.
“I was relieved, it was a long day,” said Bezuidenhout. “I went through a struggle in the middle of the round, three bogies in a row. I thought, I can’t let it slip. My caddie kept me in the moment nicely and the par save on the eighth hole was crucial. It just got the momentum going that I had lost a bit.
“To bounce back with three birdies in a row after that was nice and it settled the nerves a bit. To come out with a win today is special.
“My family have kept me humble throughout my career, they’ve supported me and thanks to them. I’m here because of them, it’s so special.
“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.”
Spaniards Eduardo de la Riva, Alvaro Quiros and Jon Rahm finished alongside Arnaus and Lorenzo-Vera at four under par in a five way tie for second place.
Garcia was then at three under par, with Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn, Belgian Thomas Detry, Gavin Green of Malaysia, German Bernd Ritthammer and Hideto Tanihara of Japan one shot further back.
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