It looked serene on the surface, but George Coetzee admitted it was a tough second round at Millvale Private Retreat in the Investec Cup tournament as he ground out a two-under-par 70 to take a two-stroke lead into the weekend.
The 2013 Chase to the Investec Cup winner Jaco van Zyl, who had the best round of the day with his five-under, was the man who was shadowing Coetzee as the action was set to move to the Lost City at Sun City for the final two rounds of the year-long chase for points, culminating in the 30-man tournament which give those players a shot at a share of the R10-million Bonus Pool.
“I survived,” laughed Coetzee after his round. “I didn’t play as well as yesterday, but I made my pars. I had to scramble a bit but I got the job done. I drove it a bit better yesterday and I actually putted a bit better today, so hopefully everything evens out for the whole week.”
He dropped just a single shot – on the par-five seventh – but he made birdies on six, 11 and 12 for his 70, and kept his nose in front ahead of the weekend. That’s a good position less than a week after his big win in the Tshwane Open.
“I’m kind of where I want to be on Sunday afternoon,” he said, “but there is still a lot of golf to be played and I hope I’ll play some better golf come the weekend.”
Van Zyl, who endured a tough 2014, sitting out much of the year as a result of knee surgery, bogeyed the par-five sixth as a result of flinching during his approach shot as a bee settled on his ball. He ended up in the water there, but the rest of his round was exemplary with six birdies – and it brought back memories of the way he snatched victory in a play-off with Hennie Otto in the 2013 edition of the Chase to the Investec Cup.
“I played really nicely, and got a couple of putts going in early in the round,” he said.
But he didn’t really look back on his 2013 performance. “It obviously helps if you know the course, but the Investec-sponsored players get to play it more often than most of us. But this is really just another week, and my old weary body is not the same as it was two years ago. So I just have to get myself into the kind of position from which I can win if the opportunity arises.”
In a share of third was a wounded Charl Schwartzel – his troublesome left shoulder was exacerbated by sleeping in a bad position – who gritted his way to a two-over-par 74, which was good under the circumstances, and Justin Harding, who carded one-under for the second round to be on two-under, four off the pace.
Looking ahead to the weekend, Coetzee was looking forward to a slightly less demanding task if he is to win the tournament. “At Millvale, you’ve got to hit your long irons and your mid-irons a bit better,” he said. “At Lost City, you’ve just got to wedge it in and putt well. Obviously, you’ve got to drive the ball pretty well on both golf courses.”