He kept his edge in the Chase to the Investec, which means projections have him taking the winner’s share of the R10-million Bonus Pool – as long as he stays ahead of the chasing pack led by Jbe’ Kruger, who fired a superb seven-under-par 65 to trail Coetzee by two.
The players in the R1-million tournament are also the 30 leading players in a year-long quest for points to compete in the tournament and for the Bonus Pool, and, for many of them, it’s a chance at a huge payday – and Coetzee is one of a few left who can pull off the R3.5-million winner’s share.
“I just didn’t drive it well all day,” said Coetzee, who made two bogeys, both from poor tee shots. “Luckily on this course, you’re able to play some three-woods and two-irons off tees, so I did that quite a bit today.”
He also made three birdies in his round, and they all came on the back nine after he turned in level par without picking up or dropping a single shot. “It wasn’t the best golf I’ve played but I managed to shoot an under-par round.
“I had one or two opportunities on the front nine, but I also made one or two mistakes. I managed to make saves from the mistakes pretty well, and I also didn’t capitalise on the opportunities I had.
“I eventually made a nice birdie on 10, and tried to get going, but I hit that really bad tee shot. When I was walking to it, I actually visualised hitting it in the hole, and I hit it well after I took the drop. My girlfriend said to me that I made a good five, but I told her it was actually a good six!”
Kruger putted out of his skin all day, best exemplified by a run of five consecutive birdies from the third to the seventh. After that, he made six pars in a row before picking up another shot. Three birdies in his final five holes were only somewhat spoiled by the solitary bogey he made on the day on the 17th.
One shot back from Kruger in third place was Charl Schwartzel. The 2011 Masters champion appeared to have weathered the shoulder problem which hampered during the second round, and he put two double-bogeys in his opening nine behind him with three birdies on each nine for a card of 70.
Another stroke back from Schwartzel was a four-man group consisting of Jaco Ahlers, Tjaart van der Walt, Chris Swanepoel and Jaco van Zyl.
One man who can rain on Coetzee’s parade as he attempts to back up his Tshwane Open win last weekend with victory in the Investec Cup is Jacques Blaauw, who carded a five-under-par 67. He made Coetzee sweat for his Tshwane victory with a brilliant closing 61 in Pretoria, and something of that order, lifting him to fourth place or thereabouts could see him take the Bonus Pool even if Coetzee wins the tournament.
Coetzee is up for the challenge. “I feel that in the last couple of weeks that my game’s got pretty good under pressure, even though I might not necessarily be playing well,” he said. “I managed to shoot a good round under pressure at Pretoria Country Club and I hope that will work for me tomorrow.”