George looking for turnaround in China

The missed cut in the European Tour event last week was an aberration for George Coetzee he will be seeking to rectify in this week’s Volvo China Open.

In a start to the year in which he garnered two top-10 finishes – sixth in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and fifth in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic – and got himself into the top 100 in the world, he would have been disappointed with rounds in Malaysia of 75 and 74.

They were his two worst rounds in tournament play this year (although he did close with a 75 in the Joburg Open), and wants to make sure they were not the first signs of a start of a slump.

Coetzee is one of seven South Africans in the field for the tournament at Binhai Lake Golf Club in Tianjin which starts on Thursday, and the man who won the 2011 Telkom PGA Championship has seen compatriots Branden Grace and Jbe’ Kruger become European Tour winners when it might have been expected that he would reach the winner’s circle ahead of them.

Grace and Kruger are in the field in China, too, and they fill sixth and 11th places respectively in the 2012 Race to Dubai, with Coetzee having slipped to 33rd after Malaysia.

Just below Coetzee in the rankings – and wanting to stay where they are or climb higher as only the top 60 get to the lucrative Dubai World Championship finale to the European Tour’s year – are Hennie Otto in 36th and Jaco van Zyl in 37th.

Keith Horne, who won the Telkom PGA Championship title this year, is in 50th, and Richard Sterne, playing on a medical extension as he attempts to come back from a debilitating back problem, is down in 89th. They are the other South Africans in the field.

Coetzee’s good start to his year on the European Tour won him a last-minute position in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, where he got through his first-round match.

But then a break from golf saw him only play in a tournament again last week – and he will want to emulate the successes of Grace and Kruger as well as Malaysian champion Louis Oosthuizen in a year that has seen South Africans take five titles on the European Tour.

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