Coetzee is the highest-ranked player in the field for the first tournament sanctioned by three tours – the Sunshine Tour, The European Tour and the Asian Tour, and the course at the Heritage Resort offers him an enticing playground.
“I’m actually looking forward to finishing my round so I can get back out on the beach, but it should be a fun week,” he said. “It’s always nice to come to a place like this.”
After a week like he had last week, when he had the intensity of head-to-head match play games in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championships, and then a tough flight to the Indian Ocean Island, he’s finding the atmosphere restorative. “I haven’t been to a tournament in a long time where you get so many activities off the golf course,” he said. “You can get to have a lot more fun and do a lot less prep work for the tournament, but I hope that means I’ll be better rested for it.”
It’s been a good start to the year for Coetzee, typified by his gritty win in the Tshwane Open in March, during which he had to grind his way through the early rounds before shutting out a charging Jacques Blaauw with a closing five-under-par 65.
“That’s been one of the good things for me this year,” said Coetzee. “While I’ve battled a bit with my game, I have been patient. I have found a space mentally where I can do enough to win, even when things aren’t going well.
“The win has taken a lot of pressure off the rest of the season. It’s hard to play for your card every year, but luckily the Tshwane Open was big enough to give me a two-year exemption on The European Tour. It means I can work on some stuff, kind of take it slow and just enjoy my golf while I’m playing it.”
He’s aware of the significance of the tournament, too. “It’s a big step for the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour,” he said “and it’s obviously great for The European Tour to get another one on the schedule, but it’s great to give the South African guys some game time to play against some of the best players in the world.”
Those players include the likes of 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge winner Thomas Bjorn and Asian Tour rising star Kiradech Aphibarnrat. And he will have plenty of Sunshine Tour players itching to grab the opportunities offered by an event such as this with both hands.