The Investec South African Open is a national treasure, and if anybody understands the value of this icon of South African sport then it’s John Smit, the former captain of another national treasure in the Springboks.
“You look at our golfers and consider how long golf in this country has kept South Africans full of hope and pride. We’re this small little country that keeps on producing champions. What sport does in this country is it distracts us a bit from the daily challenges, but it also makes us realise just how tenacious we can be on the sports field,” said Smit as he teed off with former Investec South African Open champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout in Tuesday’s pro-am at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.
“It’s just great to spend time with these golfers who are also our heroes. I saw the videos of many of our golfers celebrating Siya Kolisi’s team win the Rugby World Cup. Then to play with somebody like Christiaan and also see Dean Burmester win last week, it’s a privilege for us.”
Bezuidenhout was at home in America when he watched the Springboks win a record fourth Rugby World Cup in Paris. And he did so with another icon of South African sport.
“I actually watched it with Ernie Els at his house,” said Bezuidenhout as he looked forward to his round with Smit. “I’ve played a few rounds of golf with John (Smit) and he’s just a great guy to be around.”
Bezuidenhout wrote his own name into the proud history of South African golf and this championship with his Investec South African Open victory in 2020.
“This is special for any South African golfer growing up. It’s the one you really want to win and I’ve fortunate enough to have ticked it off, but I’d love to add my name to it again.”
The second oldest national Open in golf has drawn another strong field ahead of Thursday’s first round.
Thriston Lawrence is back to defend his title alongside former champions Bezuidenhout, Daniel van Tonder, Hennie Otto, Brandon Stone and Andy Sullivan, Major winner Charl Schwartzel, last week’s Joburg Open champion Dean Burmester, and a selection of GolfRSA’s top amateurs led by world number one-ranked amateur and winner of The Amateur Championship this year, Christo Lamprecht.