Johannesburg - While it’s often very difficult for champions
to turn on the performance taps just a week after reaching the pinnacle,
there’s nothing in the rule book about runners-up going one better.
And Christiaan Bezuidenhout is going to try that theory out
in the Joburg Open.
The tournament celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and
tees off on Thursday at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on the West
and East courses, where Bezuidenhout is looking to improve on his second-place
finish in last week’s South African Open Championship behind Brandon Stone.
“My Twitter account is already better than it ever has
been,” he laughed, “but seriously, I woke up this morning and the SA Open was
already in the past.”
And to show that he meant business, he played nine holes on
the West Course at Royal to get his tournament preparation underway. “I played
with Ernie Els, and he gave me a lot of good advice on getting ready for this
week - and he should know how to deal with these kinds of pressures,” said
Not that the Sunshine Tour rookie is showing any signs of
feeling the pressure. “I think the adrenaline is out of my system already,” he
said. “This morning, I woke up as I do on any morning - ready for practice,
ready for golf again - so, sure my life changed a bit after last week, but the
key is to stay humble because this game can bring you down easily.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s without a large degree of
self-belief, as any professional sportsman should be. “I’m full of confidence
after last week’s second place, and I know Royal well,” he said.
“I played a lot of junior events here, and amateur events. I
love these courses. You have to hit it long and straight off the tees. I think
the key this week will be to keep it in play and make some putts.”
While the field will be without defending champion Andy
Sullivan, who has commitments to play in Darren Clarke’s Europe team for the
EurAsia Cup, there will still be the likes of George Coetzee, Richard Sterne,
Jaco van Zyl and Stone to contend with.
And of course, the European challenge will be formidable
too, including 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie.