The draw for the Volvo World Match Play Championship is out and if George Coetzee is to win his maiden European Tour title, he will have to overcome Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry in the group stages.
Coetzee, seeded 14th for the 24-man event which will be played at the spectacular Thracian Cliffs Golf and Beach Resort in Bulgaria, is one of four South Africans in the field for an event which, in the past was the personal fiefdom of Gary Player and of Ernie Els.
Player won it five times – a feat matched by the late Severiano Ballesteros – and Els won it seven since the event’s 1964 inception when it was won by Arnold Palmer.
The other South Africans in the field are Branden Grace, seeded fifth, the 13th seed Richard Sterne and Thomas Aiken, who is unseeded.
Coetzee, who has won four times on the Sunshine Tour, is in the Arnold Palmer Group with world number 23 Hanson and Ireland’s Lowry. He will progress to a match against the runner-up of the Assar Gabrielsson Group which includes Aiken, second seed Ian Poulter and Tongchai Jaidee should he top his group. As runner up, he will be pitted against the winner of that group.
Grace finds himself up against defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, who is seeded just 12th, and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the Ian Woosnam Group, while Sterne is in the Gustaf Larson Group with number four seed Bo van Pelt and Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy.
The round robin matches take place on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s knockout round and the semi-finals and final on Sunday.
Coetzee, who had three top-10 finishes in a row on the European Tour in January and February – including third behind Sterne and Charl Schwartzel in the Joburg Open and second in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – has been knocking on victory’s door for some time now, and the match play format will suit his aggressive style perfectly.