Coetzee claims Tshwane Open title
All four of Coetzee’s European Tour wins have come on African soil.
South Africa’s George Coetzee overcame a shaky start and two untimely weather delays to justify his billing as pre-tournament favourite by winning the Tshwane Open for the second time.
Coetzee carded a final round of 67 at Pretoria Country Club, where he has been a member since taking up the game, to finish 18 under par, two shots ahead of England’s Sam Horsfield.
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen, who was second in the event 12 months ago, was a shot further back in third after two costly late bogeys ended his chances of victory.
Coetzee began the day with a two-shot lead but bogeyed the third and fourth and found himself two behind Korhonen, who had birdied the third and fifth.
However, a brilliant display of putting helped Coetzee fire six birdies in 10 holes from the sixth to move into a three-shot lead with three holes remaining before play was suspended for more than an hour and a half due to the threat of lightning.
When play resumed Coetzee parred the 16th and was stood over his second shot on the 17th before ominous thunder overhead heralded a second suspension, although the players remained in position and Coetzee spent the short delay calmly chatting with spectators.
That looked an unwise move when his eventual approach to the 17th flew over the green and led to a bogey, with Horsfield making birdie to cut his four-shot deficit in half.
However, 2015 champion Coetzee was not to be denied another victory and birdied the 18th to seal his fourth European Tour title, all of which have come on African soil.
“A lot has happened since the last time I held this trophy,” Coetzee said at the tournament prize-giving.
“I broke my ankle and kind of needed to show myself I could win on tour again and it’s nice to do it again in front of the home crowd. They were amazing and I don’t think I could have done it without everybody supporting me the whole week.
“After four holes I didn’t think it was going to be my day but for some reason just thought I haven’t been playing the front nine very well all week so I might as well just wait to the back nine and make something happen then and luckily for me it happened.
“The putter all of a sudden started to wake up on the eighth hole, I started making everything – me and the greens became one. That really made it easier to not worry so much about where I’m hitting it and just get it on the green. Sooner or later I’ll get it in the hole.”
Horsfield, who came through all three stages of the European Tour qualifying school last year and won the final by eight shots, birdied the last three holes in his 67, despite a wild approach to the 18th which finished behind a giant TV screen left of the green.