Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Late spin and splash costs Christiaan Bezuidenhout chance of victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

South African had played an immaculate final round in extremely tough conditions until finding the water on 18th hole

Christiaan Bezuidenhout tees-off during the play-off on the 18th hole at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Christiaan Bezuidenhout tees-off during the play-off on the 18th hole at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The last time the Omega Dubai Desert Classic was played in anything like the conditions that faced the field on Sunday, play had to be suspended on safety grounds.

Thankfully, the weather this time around was not quite so severe as that which buffeted the Majlis Course – with winds that tore down a number of trees – in 2017.

Still, though, it was some way short of the benign atmosphere that players are used to at this competition.

As such, scoring was tough. Six players registered final-round scores in the 80s. Bryson DeChambeau came back in 40, including consecutive bogeys at the final four holes, and his title-defence dissolved at the last.

Ashun Wu, who started the last day as the leading player and looked to be holding on halfway round the final stretch, played the last nine holes in 42.

Given the way so many of the Tour’s leading stars were struggling, Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s poise in the face of the elements was striking.

The South African played an immaculate, blemish-free round – all the way until he was within 78 yards of the final hole.

Then, having played safe and laid up, his approach landed, spun, and ended in the water protecting the front of the green.

“I laid it up to my perfect yardage, 78 yards to the flag,” Bezuidenhout said. “It didn't fly the yardage, and it just spun back.

“If it landed on the green, it was quite firm, but it landed just in the fringe and spun back into the water. With the spin, it was always going to be in the water.”

He limited the damage with a courageous putt for bogey, but his first dropped shot of a fine round of 68 eventually proved costly.

Lucas Herbert, in the match immediately after Bezuidenhout’s, matched his final round 68, as well as his tournament tally of 9-under by birdieing the last. At the second extra play-off hole, Herbert took the win.

He might have fallen short of becoming the third South African, after Ernie Else and Wayne Westner, to win the Dallah Trophy.

But Bezuidenhout said his performance was the latest sign of the progress his game is making.

“I believe we're doing the right things and it is nice to see all the hard work's paying off on the course, especially in big tournaments like this,” he said.

Updated: January 26, 2020 07:07 PM

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