George jumps at Match Play opportunity

George Coetzee started the week on a Monday approval to play in the Volvo World Match Play Championship. He was the lowest ranked player in the field and faced Ryder Cup hero Henrik Stenson in his first match of the tournament.


The South African had not recorded a top 10 since his share of ninth at the WGC Accenture Match Play in February, which made him a true underdog.


When he halved the first match after going toe to toe with the world number five it reignited the reigning Joburg Open champ and in the second round he beat last year’s runner up Thongchai Jaidee 2&1.


Coetzee stood out in a field packed with Ryder Cup stars, but on Saturday he succumbed 2&1 to Italian Francesco Molinari. Not to be outdone, the 28-year-old from Pretoria hunted down Patrick Reed in the next match and birdied three of his last seven holes to win 2&1 over the American.


It was turning into a stellar week for Coetzee, but in the semi-finals he would once again have to face Stenson. There is a long history between the two players, which dates back to the pair tied for the lead as they headed into the stretch at the 2012 South African Open Championship.


The Swede birdied the 16tt and 17th to win back in 2012 and at The London Golf Club on Sunday he once again produced the goods with a birdie at the last that sealed a 1-up victory.


That meant Coetzee would fight for third place against Joost Luiten in the last match of the day. The pair battled throughout the round and it took 19 holes for the Dutchman to come out on top.


A fourth-place finish for the player who started the week at the bottom is nothing to scoff at and Coetzee will surely take the confidence he made this week through to the rest of the year.


“I didn’t even think I was going to be a first reserve on Sunday  so getting in was great and I wasn’t expecting anything at all.


“I came here to compete, so I’m happy with the way I played. It’s a good time to start playing well, and that was always the plan. It’s great to come here and pick up some form and play some good golf. All of us enjoyed it,” he said.


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