Christiaan Bezuidenhout is out for revenge on Royal Portrush Golf Club as he returns to the scene of the darkest day of his career for The Open Championship.
The South African qualified for the year's final Major Championship by winning the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation last month, and knew immediately that meant a return to the venue where he failed a drugs test at the 2014 Amateur Championship.
He was taking beta blockers to help with the stutter he developed after mistakenly drinking rat poison as a child and, while he declared that fact during his test, the adverse finding resulted in a two year ban.
That was reduced to nine months after officials adjudged Bezuidenhout had not been seeking any advantage in his performance but the damage was already done as he had missed out on representing his country at the Eisenhower Trophy.
Now the Delmas native is back in Northern Ireland and determined to prove just how much has changed since his last Portrush visit.
“It’s weird, when I was walking down the 18th at Valderrama and my Open qualification was pretty much done I thought, ‘this will be revenge for me for what happened five years ago’,” he said.
“It is quite funny but it’s nice to be back. Hopefully I can make better memories than five years ago.
“It does almost feel like revenge being back.
“I don’t have great memories here but it is in the past now, I’ve put it behind me and I’m taking the positives out of the negative and moving forward. It’s great to be back.”
No longer taking any kind of medication for his stutter, Bezuidenhout believes the entire ordeal has altered his outlook - and now he hopes it can provide inspiration for others, too.
It does almost feel like revenge being back - Christiaan Bezuidenhout
“It’s always going to be part of my life, it’s something that happened but I just decided to take the positives from it and turn it around,” he added.
“It’s actually a story that can inspire people to follow their dreams. It has been quite a journey. It doesn’t matter how difficult something is, you can always turn a situation around.
“When I found out about the ban I turned it into a positive straight away, took the nine months off to work on my game and came back stronger.
“I think it has helped me to become a better person and not to take the small things for granted in life. And being a better person on the course also helps. I don’t put too much pressure on myself, I just enjoy doing something I love.”