Tshwane Open: Headline tip George Coetzee wins title

Last Updated March 04 2018, 16:47Golf
George Coetzee - 12/1 winner for Ben Coley
George Coetzee - 12/1 winner for Ben Coley

Ben Coley's pre-tournament 12/1 selection George Coetzee overcame a shaky start and two untimely weather delays to win the Tshwane Open for the second time.

Day four report

Ben Coley's pre-tournament 12/1 selection George Coetzee overcame a shaky start and two untimely weather delays to win 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.

Day three report

Ben Coley's pre-tournament 12/1 tip George Coetzee is Sky Bet's 8/13 favourite to win the Tshwane Open title at his home course after opening up a two-shot lead heading into the final round.

Coetzee has been a member at Pretoria Country Club since taking up the sport and put his local knowledge to good use to card a third round of 68 and reach 14 under par.

England's Sam Horsfield and Finland's Mikko Korhonen are Coetzee's nearest challengers on 12 under, Horsfield surging through the field with a flawless 64 - the lowest round of the day - and Korhonen returning a 69.

"I'm happy with a two-shot lead," Coetzee told europeantour.com, despite a bogey on the 18th after his drive finished behind a tree. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Playing in front of a home crowd is what it's all about. I hope I can do something special in front of all the guys tomorrow.

"I shouldn't actually think of anything tomorrow - just try and play some good golf. It will be hard to take the win out of the picture, but I'll try my best to just go out and play some good golf."

Horsfield, who came through all three stages of the European Tour's qualifying school and won the final by eight shots, held the outright lead after birdies on the first four holes and further gains on the ninth, 11th and 12th before settling for six straight pars to finish.

"When I was seven under through 12 I just tried to stay in my zone," the 21-year-old said. "I was playing with Matt Baldwin and I know him pretty well. We played together at Q-School and we just had fun out there.

"I think everyone just wants to get themselves into contention and I've done that, so tomorrow's going to be a fun day. I had a good week at Q-School, so when I get into contention, I can look back on something like that."

Scotland's Scott Jamieson is four shots off the lead after a third round of 67, with Felipe Aguilar, Thomas Aiken and Erik van Rooyen alongside Jamieson on 10 under.

Day two report

George Coetzee put local knowledge to use to storm through the field and take the lead in the Tshwane Open.

Born nearby and a member at Pretoria Country Club since he was 10 years old, Coetzee fired seven birdies in a flawless 64 to reach 11-under-par in his bid for a second victory in the event.

The three-time European Tour winner leads the way from Felipe Aguilar, who fell out of the lead with a closing bogey, and Finland's Mikko Korhonen, both on 10-under.

This trio have established a break on the field, with four players tied for fourth on seven-under including overnight leader Louis de Jager and Portugal's Ricardo Gouveia.

Coetzee started round two from the 10th tee and it was at the par-five 12th, his third, where his charge began.

The 31-year-old put together a run of four birdies in succession before two more at holes 17 and 18 to complete his opening nine in just 30 strokes.

A par save at the difficult first hole kept bogey off the card as Coetzee emerged from the toughest section of the course unscathed, and his patience was rewarded with a tap-in birdie at the par-three eighth after a fantastic tee-shot to within two feet.

Unable to birdie the par-five ninth, it was nonetheless an excellent day for the tournament favourite - tipped pre-tournament by golf expert Ben Coley at 12/1, but now around the 6/4 mark in-play.

"It was a nice stretch on the back nine – my front nine – where I got a couple of birdies in a row," he said.

"On the front nine – my back nine – I felt like I played pretty well. I just didn’t get the ball in the hole but I guess that’s the way golf works.

"I played really badly on the front nine yesterday, and I still shot two-under. Today I played pretty well and I shot one-under."

Aguilar went out in 30 having teed off at the first, an eagle at the par-five ninth putting him clear, but mistakes crept in as he came home in a one-over 37 after a clumsy bogey at the 18th.

Korhonen, on the other hand, closed out with a short-range eagle putt at the ninth hole to move into second, the position he filled in this tournament a year ago.

England's Danny Willett showed further signs of recovery as he carded his first sub-70 round of the year, a three-under 68 seeing him move to four-under for the tournament and comfortably inside the cut line.

Compatriot Sam Horsfield was among the afternoon starters to threaten the top of the leaderboard before a series of late mistakes, while overnight favourite Julian Suri made three sixes in a three-over round of 74 to fall eight shots off the pace, set by Coetzee.

Day one report

South Africa's Louis de Jager claimed a one-shot lead after the opening day of the Tshwane Open as home players looked to continue their dominance of the event.

Sky Bet offer de Jager at 20/1 to remain at the top when the final round finishes on Sunday.

Initially played at Copperleaf before switching to Pretoria Country Club in 2015, the tournament has produced four South African winners in five years, with George Coetzee, Charl Schwartzel and Dean Burmester the victors at the current venue.

Burmester and Schwartzel are competing at this week's WGC-Mexico Championship instead, but 2015 champion Coetzee is in the field and the pre-tournament favourite carded an opening 67 to lie three off the pace set by compatriot De Jager.

Coetzee can now be backed at 7/1 for the win with Sky Bet and Julian Suri is the new favourite at 11/2.

De Jager, whose best European Tour result to date came when he finished third in the inaugural Tshwane Open in 2013, birdied three of his last four holes to complete a flawless seven-under 64 and lead by one from Thomas Aiken, Suri and Felipe Aguilar.

"It is a very nice start," world number 547 De Jager said. "It is nice to go off in the morning and then post a score like that so I am very pleased.

"The course is a bit easier than the previous years, because it is a bit softer and the greens are holding much better, but the rough is still up so you've got to hit it straight and that definitely helps. I have been working quite hard on my game so it is nice to see some good results over the last few months."

Coetzee, who has been a member of Pretoria Country Club since he took up the sport, carded five birdies and an eagle on the par-five ninth, but also dropped shots on the second, fifth and 10th.

Former Masters champion Danny Willett, who has slipped to 210th in the world rankings and missed the cut in all three of his events so far this season, is six shots off the pace after two birdies and one bogey in an opening 70.

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