Golf-All but ignored, steady Bezuidenhout sneaks into contention at U.S. Open

Jun 19, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; Christiaan Bezuidenhout plays his shot from the fifth tee during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) - It is easy to get an inferiority complex playing with brawny Bryson DeChambeau, but Christiaan Bezuidenhout managed to stay in his own lane as he played his own game to remain on the edge of contention at the U.S. Open on Saturday.

South African Bezuidenhout goes into Sunday's final round four strokes from the lead, certainly not among the favorites. But stranger things have happened, and it would hardly be a huge shock if he lifted the trophy when all it said and done.

"I know my game plan, so I just want to stick to that," Bezuidenhout told Reuters after a steady one-under-par 70 that left him equal ninth at Torrey Pines.

"I struggled a bit on the greens with the pace, left a few long putts short. The course played quite long today.

"Overall tee to green I played really, really well, so if I sort out the pace issue on the greens it should be a good day tomorrow."

World number 46 Bezuidenhout was all but ignored by the galleries while playing with DeChambeau, invariably 40 yards shorter off the tee, though more often than not in the middle of the fairway while the monster-hitting DeChambeau was off in the rough.

Even their driver contact with the ball sounds different - DeChambeau's a sharp pop, while Bezuidenhout's sounds more like a gentle caress.

But there is more than one way to get the job done. They both have a simple if different game plan.

DeChambeau does it through brute force, while Bezuidenhout relies on precision - splitting fairways, hitting greens in regulation, making a lot of pars and an occasional birdie.

"Everybody knows how far Bryson hits it," Bezuidenhout said. "I just played my own game and do what I do best."

Bezuidenhout, 27, often speaks of how he had a brush with death as a toddler when he accidentally drank rat poison. Left with a speech impediment that is still evident, he described golf as his "safe place" in his boyhood years.

He has come a long way, but there is further to go.

"A U.S. Open, you never know what can happen at the end. I'm just going to stick to my game plan and see where I finish up."

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by William Mallard)

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