It’s not rare to see a South African near the top of a U.S. Open leader board. Champions include Gary Player (1965), Ernie Els (1994, 1997) and Retief Goosen (2001, 2004). Louis Oosthuizen hasn’t won, but he has four top 10s, including a third-place finish last year at Winged Foot.
Oosthuizen starts the final round holding a share of the lead at 5 under par with Russell Henley and Mackenzie Hughes, but another South African is also in contention this week. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, a 27-year-old with a deft touch around the greens, sits T-9 after a 1-under 70 on Saturday.
Bezuidenhout may be relatively unknown to many American fans, but playing in just his second U.S. Open, he seems comfortable contending at Torrey Pines after a 55th-place finish at Winged Foot in 2020. While he has only one top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, Bezuidenhout does have seven worldwide wins and hasn’t missed a cut in more than eight months.
What else should you know about the man with the hard-to-pronounce surname? When Bezuidenhout was 2 years old, he drank rat poison and spent several weeks in the ICU. At the 2014 British Amateur, he failed a drug test and was suspended from competitive golf for two years (later reduced to nine months). Upon his return, Bezuidenhout won his first event back on a mini-tour in South Africa. In 2018, he earned his European Tour card and the following year cracked the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time.