George Coetzee always felt he was pushing things a bit after he fell short of following his Joburg Open victory with a second win for the year soon afterwards, but he’s had a good rest since he missed out on qualifying for the Masters.
He’s in action after a break from competitive golf after the Telkom Business PGA Championship finished on April 6 and he tees it up in this week’s Open de Espana at the PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain.
As one of the European Tour’s winners this year, he will be hoping this return shows his game to be sufficiently refreshed ahead of the tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship which will be played at Wentworth from May 22.
Coetzee’s Joburg Open win was his first on the European Tour, and he followed it with a share of 50th in the Tshwane Open, at which point, he already seemed somewhat jaded despite a good performance a week earlier in the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship.
He followed the Tshwane performance with a share of 16th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and of 11th at the Trophee Hasan II in Morocco on the European Tour. He then returned to South Africa and finished fifth in the Investec Cup and shared 19th in the Telkom Business PGA Championship.
He is one of nine South Africans in the field in Spain this week – the others are James Kingston, Hennie Otto, Justin Walters, Tjaart van der Walt, Darren Fichardt, Jbe’ Kruger, Branden Grace and Thomas Aiken.
Coetzee is the highest-ranked of those South African players, and, with the likes of Sergio Garcia, Matteo Manassero and Thomas Bjorn also in action in Spain this week, he will be able to measure his play against higher-ranked players as well as some who have been performing well on the US stage recently.
After missing out on the Masters, Coetzee has already punched his ticket for the Open Championship, but he wants to crack the world’s top 50 in an attempt to be a fixture in all the majors – and Spain is a starting point for that quest to climb higher than his current 59th spot.