George Coetzee returns to South Africa following his 11th-place finish at the Trophee Hassan II on Sunday and he’s looking to spice up the year with an Investec Cup victory.
A Pretoria local and Affies – Afrikaans Hoer Seunsskool – old boy, Coetzee broke through on the European Tour with his victory at the Joburg Open in February. He has since made the top 20 in three of his last four results, two of which were World Golf Championship events.
The 27-year-old’s latest showing in Morocco included a Sunday 68 that took him nine places up the leaderboard at Golf du Palais Royal, an exclusive golf course situated within the Moroccan palace’s walls. This week at the Investec Cup he’ll play another track that most haven’t seen – Millvale. The private retreat is owned by Investec and Coetzee will play the first two rounds there. He’ll play the final two rounds at the Lost City Golf Course, where he last competed in 2008.
At 56th in the World Ranking, Coetzee is the man to beat in the North West Province this week. He faces the stiffest competition from world number 76 Ross Fisher, who is closely followed by world number 85 Thomas Aiken.
The higher-ranked players add to the World Ranking points available at the Investec Cup. The points are an important feature for Coetzee, who needs to reach the world’s top 50 by the week ending March 30th in order to secure a place at The Masters.
But the real highlight of the Investec Cup is a different points system – one that rewards the winner with a R3,5-million cheque. The Investec Cup Bonus Pool incorporates 21 regular-season events on the Sunshine Tour and reaches its climax at this week’s finale.
Coetzee holds 23rd in the Chase to the Investec Cup, which means that nothing less than victory will suffice. A significant 891 points separate him from the lead, but 1500 points go to the winner this week and the opportunity is there for the South African.
He’s tied the course record of 62 at the Old Course at St. Andrews, taken a career batch of 25 top-10s on the European Tour, and is a newly-crowned Joburg Open champion. It’s going to take a lot for Coetzee to pull it off this week, but he certainly has what it takes to get the job done.