18th October 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Bezuidenhout takes route 66 to maiden IGT win
(PHOTO – Theunis Bezuidenhout; CJ du Plooy)
BROEDERSTROOM, 18 October 2017 – Theunie Bezuidenhout rallied to a maiden IGT Challenge Tour title in the second Race to Q-School on Wednesday. The 22-year-old Rustenburg amateur outpaced five-time champion Estiaan Conradie with a final round six-under-par 66 to close out a two shot victory on 16 under 200 at Pecanwood Golf and Country Club.
Bezuidenhout claim close to a first win on the country’s premier golf development circuit in the Pecanwood Challenge in May and was delighted to go the distance.
“It feels great to put my hands on a trophy after knocking so many times this season,” he said.
“I’ve definitely gained experience over the last four months, because Estiaan turned up the pressure on the back nine, but I handled it really well. It was such a fantastic feeling to hole that winning putt.”
Bezuidenhout posted rounds of 68 and 66 to start the last day with a two shot lead over Pieter Moolman from the Lake Club Benoni and Pretoria duo Conradie and Paul Boshoff.
He birdied three, five and seven, had a lone bogey at six.
“I had a solid front nine,” said Bezuidenhout. “I hit a great shot into the third to a very tight pin and holed an eight-footer for birdie to get the round going. I solid two-putt birdie at five, but I missed the green at six and couldn’t up-and-down to save par.
“At seven I holed a 10-footer for birdie and I felt really comfortable at the turn. The other guys fell away, but Estiaan had two birdies to keep in touch. The back nine was kind to me. I played it four-under without bogeys and that gave me some confidence.”
Bezuidenhout and Conradie both birdied 10, but Conradie closed in with an eagle at 12.
“We played off the back tips on most of the holes and the 12th was playing a lot longer than the previous rounds,” said Bezuidenhout. “I hit my tee shot slightly left and Estiaan went down the middle. I hit hybrid from 250 metres to 25 feet and Estiaan hit an iron close and holed his eagle putt. I lagged my first putt to eight feet and made the birdie to go 14 under, but he was right on my heels.”
Bezuidenhout had birdie chances at 13 and 14, but pars was enough to protect his lead. At 15, the pin was tucked just over the greenside bunker. Bezuidenhout hit his approach from 90 metres out to five feet but Conradie found the trap.
“Estiaan’s bunker shot finished 15 feet from the hole, but made the birdie and that two shot swing gave me a little breathing room,” Bezuidenhout said. “Then Estiaan chipped in for birdie at 16.
“I was two up with two to play. I knew I had to box cleverly over the last two holes. I made a great par save at 17 from five feet. I hit a good drive down 18, my second shot landed 12 feet from the pin and I knocked it in for the win.
“We have a stretch of three events on the amateur circuit in November, so I’ll play a few more IGT events to prepare for The Bobby Locke. Hopefully I can keep the consistency going. It would be great to win one to boost my ranking before the end of the season.”
Conradie closed with a 67 to finish three shots back and a 70 from Moolman earned him third on 206.