Coetzee completes Gary Player Invitational field

Rising star George Coetzee will join a strong cast of international golfers, sports stars and celebrities at the 12th edition of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the Zimbali Coastal Resort from 11-13 November 2011.

The brawny Pretoria golfer completes the regular Tour line-up alongside European Tour winners Jesper Parnevik and Peter Hanson from Sweden, Ladies European Tour champion Diana Luna from Italy, rising Scottish star Carly Booth and compatriots Jaco van Zyl, James Kamte and Lee-Anne Pace, all multiple winners in their own right.

In the nearly four years since he first joined the professional ranks on the back of a prolific amateur career that saw him ranked first in South Africa, Coetzee has won four times on the Sunshine Tour, with his biggest victory to date the Telkom PGA Championship in February.

The 25-year-old returns home on the back of an exciting and lucrative season in Europe, where he currently ranks 24th on the Race to Dubai with earnings well over €800 000. In the last year, Coetzee has climbed from outside the top 200 to 92nd on the official world golf rankings, thanks mainly to seven top 10 finishes in Europe.

Among his highlights were three third-place finishes at the Portugal Masters, BMW International and Barclays Scottish Open and a runner-up finish at the Johnnie Walker Championship, where he lost in a play-off to Thomas Bjorn.

It has certainly been a fruitful season for the young gun and he is looking forward to sharing the fairways with nine-time major winner Gary Player, as well as a strong cast of senior professionals, celebrities and business executives in his second successive appearance in the popular pro-celebrity tournament.

“I am looking forward to the Gary Player Invitational because for myself and the other Sunshine Tour professionals it is a great way to stay competitive ahead of the big tournaments coming up later this month,” said Coetzee. “But the competition side of things is really a by-product of what we are really playing for, namely charity.”

As the perfect expression of the Black Knight’s dedication to charity, the Gary Player Invitational series has raised over R250-million for underprivileged children in all corners of the globe and it is a cause Coetzee fully supports.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere and I think it is wonderful opportunity for us to raise funds for the children who need our support and commitment.”

Coetzee, who credits Player’s latest book Don’t Choke – A Champion’s Guide to Winning Under Pressure as one of the reasons he has enjoyed such a successful season, also admits he hopes to spend a little time with the Black Knight ahead of the South African Open.

“Every time you get the opportunity to listen to Gary Player, you walk away with incredible insights and to have a chance to get some insights from someone who won the SA Open a record 13 times will be invaluable,” said Coetzee.

The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola features a mix of stars from the European Tour, the Ladies European Tour, the Champions and European Senior Tours, the LPGA Tour, local and international celebrities and, of course, eight business executives who will captain the teams in the 36-hole Stableford Alliance competition.

The Champions field will include Player, Ian Woosnam, Mark James, DJ Russell, Vincent Tshabalala, Tony Johnstone, Sally Little and Roger Wessels, while the celebrities who will be lining up are sporting legends Pierre Spies, Breyton Paulse, Lucas Radebe, Kapil Dev, Paul Collingwood, Shaun Pollock, internationally acclaimed rugby referee Craig Joubert and popular 5FM Breakfast Show host, Thomas Msengana.

The business executives, who will captain the teams, include Claudia and Dieter Schönfeld of Alfred E Tiefenbacher, Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Country manager Alex Maditsi, president of IFA Hotel Group Africa and Indian Ocean, Wessel Witthuhn, and KeNako Academy chairman Ron Boon.

Bollywood diva and model Neha Dhupia will also join the all-star line-up to lend her glamorous support to Africa’s premier charity event that raises funds to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in South Africa.

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