George Coetzee’s five-under-par 67 in the second round of the R1-million Investec Cup on Friday took him into a two-stroke lead – and a step closer to a spot in the first major championship of the year.
First-round leader Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark carded a level-par 72 at Millvale Private Estate to reach halfway at seven-under-par in second, with Keith Horne and Merrick Bremner reaching six-under 138 with their rounds of 68 and 69 respectively.
A victory for Coetzee in this tournament will earn him enough Official World Golf Ranking points to get him inside the top 50 in the world and assure him of a start in the Masters at the beginning of April.
“That’s one of the most important things I’m playing for this week,” said Coetzee. “There’s only one spot here that will work for me, so I’m trying to just stick to the things that I’ve been doing in the last couple of weeks which have worked for me.
“It’s starting to show on the golf course, and my scoring is starting to be pretty good. I feel very comfortable. So I try not to think about all the benefits of playing well – I just try and play well,” he said.
Playing well will give him a tilt at the winner’s share of the R10-million Bonus Pool for the Chase to the Investec Cup – that’s R3.5-million of a pool of R10-million to be shared by the 30 players who topped the points table after a year-long quest for points in all the regular-season Sunshine Tour events in the Chase to the Investec Cup, beginning with the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open last April and ending at the Tshwane Open.
Coetzee started back in 23rd position on 928 points, and, with 1,500 for a win in the Investec Cup finale (and only 180 for 30th spot), he can make serious inroads into the lead of Ross Fisher who started on 1,819 points.
Coetzee’s round on Friday included three birdies and an eagle, and the fact that he had no dropped shots put him in a good position, as everyone else had bogeys on their cards. Bjerregaard had two, Horne one and Bremner three.
Coetzee is finding that the changes brought about by his new coach Doug Wood are starting to bed down. “I’m very comfortable with the way things are going now,” he said. “I’m starting to understand my swing a bit better so if I hit a bad shot I know what to focus on immediately in the shot after that.
“I guess that’s what everyone is aiming for – to learn quickly and not take the whole round to figure out what’s wrong.”
With Bjerregaard, Horne and Bremner within striking distance – as well as Justin Walters and Trevor Fisher Jnr on five-under through halfway – Coetzee knows it won’t be a stroll in the park over the final two rounds at the Lost City on the weekend.
“I don’t think you can go round and par your way home,” he said. “We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m sure there will be lots of birdies in the last two days.”