George Coetzee played himself into contention in Friday’s second round of the BMW PGA Championship with a solid two-under-par 70 at the Wentworth Club.
He found himself in an early share of second on five-under for the tournament, one stroke off the lead held by Francesco Molinari after a miserably cold and rainy morning’s play which saw squeegees used on some greens as water began to accumulate on them.
“I’ll take it,” said Coetzee. “I think it’s a pretty good number considering the weather. Obviously, the course always plays tough, so I’m quite happy.”
Coetzee had progressed to six-under-par and a share of the lead when he made his third birdie of the day on the 11th, but a bogey on 17 – one of a pair of tough par-fives which round off the good test of golf – saw him slip off the pace.
“I think I did well to not make any bogeys up until 17,” he said. “I didn’t play that well on the front nine – there was a lot of scrambling and a lot of good putts made to save par. But coming down the last couple of holes, I thought if I could sneak maybe one or two birdies, I could be in a really good position, but I’m still quite happy at five-under.”
He also managed to salvage par at the 18th after hitting his tee shot into the water to the right of the fairway and green, which caused so much controversy when that part of the redesign was unveiled three years ago.
“After dunking it in the water, I’m quite happy with that,” he said. “If I’d made six, I probably would have been very upset with myself.”
Even though conditions made things difficult for everyone, Coetzee was happy enough to accept them as part of the game. “I felt like I had pretty good touch around the greens and on the greens,” he said. “If you let conditions affect you, they probably will.”
Coetzee is chasing a maiden European Tour title, and it would be an extraordinary achievement if he were to pull off that overdue victory at Wentworth in the European Tour’s flagship event which many equate to a major championship in terms of difficulty.
Ernie Els also put himself into contention with a three-under-par 69, as he moved within striking distance of the top of the leaderboard ahead of the halfway mark.
Other South Africans who got their rounds concluded early on were Jaco van Zyl, Dawie van der Walt and Darren Fichardt.
Van der Walt will miss the cut after his three-over 75 saw him slip to nine-over for the tournament, as will Fichardt after he also carded 75 to be three-over.
But Van Zyl had a shot at being right in contention with seven birdies and two bogeys before an ugly double-bogey seven on the 18th saw him card a 69 which moved him to level-par for the championship – certainly not out of things.