Coetzee’s record 63 can’t catch flying Stenson

George Coetzee will spend the evening on Saturday scratching his head about how to catch the flying Swede Henrik Stenson as he prepares for the final round of the South African Open Championship.

Coetzee fired a stunning course-record 63 for the third round, nine-under-par for the 7,096-metre (7,761-yard) Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate, while Stenson ground his way to a three-under-par 69.

That left Coetzee three shots adrift in a share of second with Stenson’s countryman Magnus A Carlsson.

“It’s great to shoot a 63 and I’m very happy, but I have to forget about it as soon as possible,” said Coetzee. “I’ve got go out tomorrow. If the wind pumps and they put the flags in ridiculous places then 63 is definitely not an option. I’ve just got to get over it and just go out tomorrow and start from scratch.”

At the same time, to reel in Stenson – who has rounds of 66-65-69 behind him – will be no easy thing, and he will need to repeat some of his third-round heroics if he is to do so.

He started with birdies on one and two, and then, on the fourth, he deposited his approach into the hole for an eagle. “Usually when you hole out from a long way the next shot is quite tough, because you expect to hole everything,” he said. “I think I handled it pretty well and hit a good shot on the next. I think the fact that there was a car on the line for an ace made me concentrate a little better.”

He kept up the pressure, making two more birdies on six and eight to turn in 30. Two more on 10 and 11 saw him eight-under through 11 and on his way to a remarkable score.

But bogeys on 12 and 15 slowed his pace. Not much. There were three more birdies on 14, 17 and 18, and the course record Merrick Bremner had equalled in the first round was Coetzee’s.

“Things like that happen and I just try to take it in my stride,” said Coetzee of his bogeys. “Luckily for me I bounced back, even though it took me two holes after those bogeys.”

Coetzee, 26, has been knocking on the door of a maiden European Tour title for two years now, and he is exhibiting extraordinary patience in the process.

“I’ve been working very hard on keeping myself in the present and stop worrying about the result and what you can get if you birdie every single hole home,” he said. “That kind of thing hasn’t worked for me in the past and I’m sure it’ll never work in the future as well.

“Especially today it felt like I handled it a lot better. When I made that bogey, usually I would want to make birdie on the next hole. I felt today that I handled it a lot better and just waited for my opportunities,” he added.

But that will be out of his mind tonight: “The only worry I have tonight is making a speech at my dad’s 50th!”

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