Coetzee coy ahead of SA Open

From European Tour

2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge: Day 1George Coetzee arrives at Glendower Golf Club this week looking to go one better than his runner-up finish at the South African Open Championship presented by the City of Ekurhuleni in 2012.

Last season saw the 28-year-old claim a maiden European Tour title on home soil at the Joburg Open, and he heads back to the outskirts of his nation’s largest city looking to add to that crown, fresh off one of the best Race to Dubai finishes of his career.

Alongside his first victory on the circuit, Coetzee also recorded a further five top ten finishes, with fourth place results at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Volvo World Match Play Championship aiding his progress to 23rd on the season-long list, only two back of his best season in 2012.

It might have been a little while since he last picked up the clubs in competitive anger, but he is adamant that he wants to win his national Open, and remains hopeful that the things he has been working on in the build-up to Thursday’s first round will see him challenge once again.

“It’s a bit of a cliché to want to win it, but I do,” said Coetzee, who didn’t compete last year, when the event returned to Glendower for the first time since 1997. “I came second a few years back and I didn’t realise it at the time, but a year later I looked back and really wanted to win it.

“We’re all here for one thing, and that’s to lift the trophy on Sunday. It’s nice to have ticked the box and won, but it doesn’t stop with one victory, and while I’m a lot more relaxed about how I plan my season now, I’m still just as serious about everything.

“We don’t play a lot of golf over Christmas so I’m working on a bit of stuff, which will hopefully kick in by Thursday, but there’s still some work to do as I have a bit of rust to deal with.”

Coetzee is not always known for his accuracy, ranking 134th in driving accuracy in 2014 having found 57.4 per cent of the fairways, while his play into the greens also saw him finish 143rd in greens in regulation, hitting his target in the right number 65.1 per cent of the time.

It is therefore a game that might not be naturally suited to the narrow Glendower layout, but with one of the best putting records on the Tour – having finished first in putts per greens in regulation last season with an average of 1.712 strokes and third in Putts per Round with 28.4 – the five time Sunshine Tour winner will still fancy his chances, even if he believes accuracy will remain paramount.

“The course is very tough,” said Coetzee. “The rough is thick and I hit an eight iron about 15 yards on one hole. The course is in good nick and it should be a real challenge this week, which is appropriate for the event. I don’t see 19-under winning it this week, because if you miss a fairway there is an 80 percent chance that you’ll have to chip out.

“I prefer tricky greens to tricky rough, but you’ve got to make your game suit the course. Hopefully I’ll hit it straight and make a lot of putts. You’ve got to hit a lot of fairways though, because I don’t think the best putter will win it this week.”

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