George relishing major challenge in US Open

He has a superb start in major championships behind him already, and George Coetzee goes into the US Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco this week knowing what another good performance can do for his career.

“I wouldn’t say that just playing the US Open is a dream come true,” he said, “it is a start and a chance.”

Coetzee has been knocking on the door of a maiden European Tour victory, and has had four top-10 finishes this year – coming closest when he finished fourth behind Branden Grace in the Volvo China Open in April.

He had eight top-10s last year, too, and he came so close in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles when he lost out in a five-way playoff which was eventually won by Danish veteran Thomas Bjorn.

And he looked good in his major championship debut, too, finishing 15th in the Open Championship last year at Royal St George’s behind the popular victory by Darren Clarke. He made the cut after successive opening rounds of 69, and was inside the top 10 going into the weekend.

He missed the cut in the Reale Seguros Open de España in early May, but he got his game back into shape with a 21st-place finish in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and the 14th in the ISPS Handa Wales Open the following week.

The tough conditions at Celtic Manor in Wales would have been good preparation for the challenges Olympic will present, and he will have to be accurate all week if he is to get into contention in his second major.

He got into the US Open through a qualifier at Walton Heath in England, where a superb morning 66 and a more modest 71 in the afternoon gave him a seven-under-par total, a share of third and a maiden US Open berth.

While he may be more below the radar than his good friend Grace, it is a matter of time before he breaks through – and no-one is more conscious of the importance of the majors for golfers around the world: “There are those four events that I care most about and this is one of them,” he said.

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