Golf | 04 Mar 2018 | By Michael Vlismas
Double delight as George Coetzee makes Tshwane Open history
| Photo by Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour
George Coetzee became the first player in Tshwane Open history to win the title twice when he claimed a two-stroke victory at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.
Coetzee closed with a 67 to win on 18 under par, adding to the title he won here in 2015. England’s Sam Horsfield finished second on 16 under, also with a round of 67.
Coetzee’s win came despite two suspensions of play with only three holes of his final round remaining. Coetzee was three shots clear at the time of the first suspension. Just under two hours later the players returned. Coetzee played one hole – the par-three 16th – and made par when the siren sounded for the second suspension because of lightning. He returned to bogey 17 and then birdied 18 for the win.
“A lot has happened since the last time I held this trophy. It’s nice to win again,” said the now four-time winner on the European Tour, whose last victory before this also came in 2015 when he won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
“I couldn’t have done it this week without the amazing support from the club members,” he said, paying tribute to his home club.
Coetzee led by two going into the final round, but made two bogeys in his first four holes. Finland’s Mikko Korhonen set the pace on the front nine with his three birdies and he moved one clear of Coetzee before the South African found his putting touch on the back nine.
Coetzee’s four birdies in five holes from the 11th, including a 30-foot putt for birdie on the 13th, took him three clear of the field at that stage and gave him the cushion he needed.
“After the first four holes I wasn’t sure it was going to be my day to be honest. But the putter started to wake up on the back nine,” Coetzee said.
Korhonen finished third on 15 under with a closing 68.
Earlier in the day, Zimbabwean professional Mark Williams signed for a final round of 70 to finish on five over par. But the time he took to play his final 18 holes was what was so significant.
Williams played alone with just a marker and completed his round in one hour and 58 minutes. He finished his round with two birdies and an eagle over his final three holes.
“I’m a fast player and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t really rush too much. Luckily I didn’t have to look for too many balls. But it was really nice just being out there with the marker and my mate caddying for me. It was fun,” said Williams.