The damage caused a crippling stutter that left him uncomfortable in social situations. This led to anxiety and depression.
This discomfort likely steered Christiaan away from team sports and toward golf. Lucky for us.
In spite of his difficult start in life, he persevered and excelled at golf. As a teen, doctors put him on beta blockers to help him with his condition. By 2014 he qualified for the British Amateur at Royal Port Rush. During that event he was selected for random drug testing. He listed the blockers on the form and thought nothing of it. That year his career goal was finally coming to fruition. He would represent the South Africa team in the Eisenhower Trophy tournament.
INSULT TO INJURY
Two days before the event - he received a 2 year ban from the International Golf Federation. He was branded a cheater by some and his career was over.
Family and friends stood by him. South African golfing legend Ernie Els also rallied for his cause. The ban was reduced to 9 months, and after the facts of his story were made public, critics became fans, and he could just get back to playing the game he loved.
NOTHING GREAT COMES EASY
Working hard on the European Tour he was in contention on a bigger stage Andalucía Masters at Valderrama last year. I was watching that Sunday and thought "Really? "Here's his chance to win and he has to take down Jon Rahm on his home turf (home crowd) in Spain? He went head to head with Spaniards Rahm and Sergio Garcia. He later stated regarding the crowds - "I figured I would just use the negative to my advantage". Christiaan won by 6 strokes!
WELCOME TO THE BUZZ SAW
He won again last month in South Africa and gained entry into this weeks Arnold Palmer Invitational. This is only his second start on the PGA Tour. As luck would have it - the course conditions this week have destroyed the best players in the world. Books Keopka missed the cut at 9 Over and the field average was 76 yesterday.
PAR FOR THE COURSE
Considering all that Christiaan has been though - this weeks challenge at Bay Hill is really just par for the course in his life. I think he's up for it! After all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Christian is just 3 back going into the final round. He's paired with Rory today, so we will get to see him, but the gallery will be rooting for McIlroy.
(3/8) UPDATE ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL:
Rory and Bez came out strong the first few holes, with pars on a day when those were at a premium. Then like most of the field, they fell out of contention. The good news is that Bez is playing in Florida on the PGA Tour again this week at The Players.
Oddly enough, as hard at Bayhill played last week - Bez has a better chance of winning this week against the toughest field in golf.
(3/12) UPDATE THE PLAYERS
Round 1: Christiaan shot a 7 under 65, finishing 2 shots off the lead.
I had bets paying around $4000 on Christiaan who was 150-1.
Rumors the tourney could be shortened to 56 or even 36 holes increased his chances and mine even more.
That Thursday The NBA and other major sports suspended their seasons due to Corona Virus fears. On Thursday PGA commissioner Jay Monahan announced that The Players Championship would continue without fans.
The PGA had the opportunity to be the one great, much needed diversion for the nation. No fans was a sensible move for players and fans. This is an outdoor event and the players had already taken the risk of getting there on a plane and exposing themselves.
Let them play!
Let golf shine!
By Friday the decision was made to cancel the event entirely. No winner - just cancelled.
I cannot fault Monahan or anyone for a decision made on limited information under tremendous pressure. However, it was a shock, and as much as I felt robbed, that was nothing compared to what the players must have felt.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Twitter):
"Not a great feeling to shoot 65 in your
THE SILENCE HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
Last week I woke up each morning ready to check the leaderboard and watch some golf. Then remembered there wasn't one. There were no sports of any kind being played. I can only imagine the shock to the system this was for players.
I went to Westgate Casino and cashed in my Players ticket refunds. It was a ghost town.
The grocery store shelves looked like a scene from a zombie apocalypse.
But, "What doesn't kill you...
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES AT AUGUSTA
The PGA Tour has cancelled tournaments leading up to The Masters - which has also been postponed to an undetermined date. Christiaan has earned a place in the field at Augusta.
A win or top 10 finish there would make a great ending this article. His inspiring story will continue for many years to comes.