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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Why didn’t Trevor Immelman back Christiaan Bezuidenhout more at Presidents Cup?

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Centurion – Ardent fans of South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout were left wondering why his countryman and captain Trevor Immelman only played the rookie in two out of a possible five matches, as the Internationals lost the Presidents Cup 17.5-12.5, in North Carolina, on Sunday.

Bezuidenhout first teamed up with Mito Pereira in the fourballs on day two and tied with Americans Kevin Kisner and Cameron Young. On Sunday, Bezuidenhout went up against Kisner again, this time in the singles, and won 2&1 in the final match of the day, with the outcome of the Presidents Cup already decided.

The 28-year-old Bezuidenhout was one of eight rookies in a highly-inexperienced International team, and Immelman would have had his work cut out for him coming up with competitive combinations – ultimately he achieved this objective as his underdog side exceeded expectations against a US team who were massive favourites. The International team were also hit hard by players defecting to LIV Golf which meant big names like Louis Oosthuizen were unavailable.

However, when you look at American Jordan Spieth, who played all five matches and returned a perfect haul of five points – Bezuidenhout might just feel he didn’t receive quite the same platform. The counter argument of course is that Spieth, a three-time major champion and Presidents Cup stalwart, has already shown in the past he can deliver on the biggest stage.

Meanwhile, Canadian rookie Taylor Pendrith turned out in four matches for the Internationals and lost on every occasion.

In contrast, Bezuidenhout won 1.5 points out of a possible two. In Immelman’s defence, he is not in possession of a crystal ball and predicting how a player will fare in the matchplay format is not an accurate science.

There are some numbers or statistics, however, that should have played in Bezuidenhout’s favour – like his solid season on this season’s PGA Tour in which he finished 51st on the FedExCup rankings. One of the big reasons behind his strong showing was his putting – Bezuidenhout was ranked sixth on tour in strokes gained putting. His ability to putt well under pressure, and consistently, alone should have seen Bezuidenhout feature more at the Presidents Cup.

Coming into the week, Bezuidenhout, as the only SA player on the team, spoke about what it meant to play on the biggest stage of international team golf competition.

“I grew up in a small town back in South Africa. There wasn’t a lot there. I grew up on a small nine-hole golf course with no chipping green or putting green or driving range. I basically just grew up grinding away, hitting my balls down the third fairway, picking them up again.

“So to be standing here, for a guy like me coming from a small town in South Africa, it means a lot. It’s very rewarding to see how far I’ve come over the last few years.”

It’s easy to criticise a team’s overall performance after a loss, but there can’t be many complaints about how Immelman’s underdogs fared, my only complaint is that Bezuidenhout wasn’t given more chances to shine. He may have not been able to produce more points, but we wouldn’t be left wondering.



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