Christiaan Bezuidenhout Does the Double in South Africa
Christiaan Bezuidenhout secured back to back European Tour wins on home soil with a five-shot cruise to victory at the South African Open.
The 26-year-old began his final round with a five-shot lead over Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who cut the deficit to two before turn as the South African struggled at Gary Player Country Club.
But Bezuidenhout found his form on the the back nine to sign for a 69 and finish on 18 under par overall to seal his third European Tour operated title of the season after his win at the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the European Challenge Tour in February and his four shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship seven days ago.
The South African will be one to watch at next week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai after climbing into the top five of the Race to Dubai.
"It's unbelievable to stand here with an Open win," Bezuidenhout said. "It's any South African golfer's dream to win a national tournament. It's unreal. I fought hard today, the front nine things didn't really go my way and I just dug deep to come out with a win today.
"That was massive, making birdies at the 10th, 11th and 12th. I knew I had to make pars coming in and I did it. I'm really, really chuffed to stand here as a winner."
Donaldson made an early move with an opening birdie to cut the gap to four shots before Bezuidenhout shoehorned his putt for a gain at the first in a sign of what was to come on his front nine in Sun City.
When Donaldson holed out for a birdie at the third, he was three behind. He then produced a stunning bunker shot at the fourth to within three feet to save par but missed the putt to drop back to 11 under.
He responded immediately with a birdie at the fifth as Bezuidenhout remained at 15 under.
Bezuidenhout found water with his approach into the eighth. He pitched to 18 feet, leaving a testing putt for a bogey but holed it. Donaldson was now just two adrift of Bezuidenhout, but lipped for birdie at the ninth, only to miss the par putt to slip three behind. Bezuidenhout saved par after being in the bunker at the same hole and Donaldson was unlucky not to cut the gap to two when he lipped out once again at the 10th.
The leader hit his approach to four feet at the 10th to card his first birdie of the round and return to 15 under par - four ahead of Donaldson. And he never looked back after that.
He picked up another shot at the next - after Donaldson did so in the group ahead - before sinking a superb birdie from the fringe at the 12th for a five shot lead at 17 under. Donaldson cut the gap to four at the 14th thanks to a huge birdie putt and when he holed another from 15 feet at the 16th - he was only three adrift.
But Bezuidenhout shut the door with a birdie at the par-three 16th.
He sealed his victory at the 17th. Bezuidenhout went left off the tee and looked destined for the thick bushes but his ball finished in the rough after bouncing off the cart path. Ahead on the same hole, Donaldson had 30 feet for birdie to pile the pressure on Bezuidenhout, only to three putt for a bogey and slip five behind at 13 under.
Bezuidenhout's luck did not stop there as his approach was helped towards the pin courtesy of a favourable bounce from the bank of the bunker as he escaped with a par.
And when he closed with a par, he became the first player since Justin Rose in 2017 to record consecutive European Tour victories.
Donaldson sealed second place at 13 under, with South African Dylan Frittelli two shots back in third and compatriot Dean Burmester in fourth at 10 under.
Rozner Overcomes Four-Shot Deficit to Win First Title in Dubai
Elsewhere, Antoine Rozner overcame a four-shot deficit to record his maiden European Tour victory at the Golf In Dubai Championship. He finished the week on an incredible 25 under par to win by two shots after a glorious final round of 64.
The Frenchman began the day four behind Andy Sullivan, who led from day one as he went after his fifth victory. And it looked for all the world like Sullivan was going to do it as was still two ahead of Mike Lorenzo-Vera as he reached the homeward stretch at Jumeirah Golf Estates - Fire Course. But Rozner had other ideas. A hat-trick of birdies from the ninth closed the gap to one and Rozner took the lead for the first time with an eagle at the 13th.
A bogey from the Englishman at the 16th was critical as Rozner held his nerve to finish with a birdie. He is the 14th first time winner this season in only his 24th appearance in a stellar rookie year for the 27-year-old.
"It means a lot. It's been such a strange year, we have been through so much all over the world and to be able to get it done in such nice fashion, eight under, it's amazing," Rozner said. "I'm going to be very honest with you, the first time I saw I was in the lead was when I was on the 18th green so I didn't really look at the leaderboards.
"I knew the game was there. I didn't know it was that good but I'm excited. I knew I was in the final (DP World Tour Championship, Dubai) already, it's just a good way to finish the season. The biggest tournament of the year. I didn't play any Rolex Series events this year so to be able to play such a big tournament will be a big thing for me, so I'm excited."
Sullivan made birdies on the first three days at the opening hole and did so again to move to 22 under. Matt Wallace and Renato Paratore followed suit at first but both carded early double bogeys to derail their title chances.
Lorenzo-Vera began with a hat-trick of birdies to move to 19 under and when he reached the seventh, the 35-year-old was in second as Paratore slipped down the leaderboard.
Sullivan was three clear as he parred the next five holes but Lorenzo-Vera chipped to within four feet and birdied the seventh hole to reach 20 under.
Rozner produced a stunning approach at the same hole for an eagle chance from eight feet but his effort rolled up inches short to sit one behind his fellow Frenchman.
Sullivan missed his eagle chance at the seventh but tapped in to regain his three-shot lead at 23 under as Lorenzo-Vera holed par putt at the eighth.
Sullivan's momentum stalled at the eighth when he three putted and carded his third bogey of the week and Lorenzo-Vera produced a stunning bunker shot at the tenth to earn a birdie and cut the deficit to one.
As the leading challenger moved to the 21 under, Sullivan had a birdie putt of his own from seven feet at the ninth and drained the effort to restore his two shot lead.
However, Rozner was getting hot at the turn as he dialled into inside eight feet at the ninth and tenth to climb alongside Lorenzo-Vera at 21 under.
At the next, his tee shot at the par three 11th landed seven feet away and he completed his hat-trick of birdies to sit one adrift of Sullivan.
Lorenzo-Vera picked up a shot at the 13th after a stunning wedge from the rough before Rozner made his move.
The 27-year-old missed the chance to join Sullivan at the summit as he parred the 12th but when he found par five 13th in two and rolled in the eagle putt, there was a new leader at 24 under.
Sullivan was following up on the same hole and had a tricky 12 foot putt to return to the top alongside Rozner, which he drained.
Sullivan held his nerve with a testing par putt at the 14th to stay at 24 under, which proved crucial as Rozner bogeyed the 15th and relinquished the lead.
Lorenzo-Vera dialled into four feet to card his seventh birdie of the round to sit with his compatriot at 23 under.
Rozner responded with a tap-in birdie at the 16th to return to joint leadership and Lorenzo-Vera stayed in contention with a fine par save at the hole ahead.
There was nearly a two shot swing when Sullivan three putted at the 16th to slip to 23 under, while leader Rozner narrowly missed a birdie chance moments later.
Sullivan slid a birdie putt past the 17th hole from the fringe as Lorenzo-Vera finished with a gain to card a flawless 65 and join him at 23 under.
Rozner was brimming with confidence though and, after finding the fairway with his tee shot at the last, he produced a sensational two iron to 23 feet for eagle.
He could not drain the attempt but tapped in for a closing gain to finish on 25 under par, meaning Sullivan had to eagle to 18th hole to force a play-off.
The Englishman found the first cut with his tee shot to give himself a chance but his second found the greenside bunker and when he failed to hole out, Rozner claimed his first European Tour crown.
Sullivan closed with a par to finish two adrift alongside Lorenzo-Vera, Wallace and Italian Francesco Laporta in a tie for second.
Scotland's Grant Forrest carded a final round 63 to sit in solo sixth at 21 under, with Ross Fisher one shot further back in seventh.
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