George Coetzee must have felt short of luck when the Volvo World Match Play Championship draw was announced and he was up against Ryder Cup hero Henrik Stenson for the first game. But fate would play to his advantage over the final two holes and a good lie allowed the 28-year-old to halve the day with Sweden’s finest golfer.
“I was just happy to have a putt to halve the match. I got a bit lucky on 17 and then again on 18 to catch a lie like that,” said Coetzee.
The South African and his rival were on song during the first round and it took birdies to win holes. It was an impressive half point to make, considering that Stenson is ranked fifth in the world and one month ago stormed through his Ryder Cup opponents.
“It was up and down for 18. We both played pretty solid and neither of us made bogeys. We made birdies when it was needed and in the end I sank the one to halve it,” said Coetzee. “I seem to keep playing against number ones and twos in the world!”
For him it’s an exciting change of pace from the weekly regular of stroke play tournaments on tour. And after his good start the sky is the limit.
“I enjoy match play, it used to be my favourite format. I had to change my game a bit to play stroke play events better. It’s nice to have a couple of events through the year that allow you to play match play and gain a bit of your amateur form,” he said.