George takes charge at The Open

George Coetzee rose to the occasion during round two at the 143rd Open Championship and strung together a 69 at Royal Liverpool to reach the halfway mark on five-under-par.

 

“I was quite excited to see my name up there on the leaderboard during the day and hopefully it will still be there during the week. This is where you want to be, because the goal is to win majors during your career,” he said.

 

The reigning Joburg Open champion celebrated his birthday on Friday and those high spirits clearly had an effect during his round, which included a run of three consecutive birdies from the 13th to the 15th.

 

The 28-year-old turned in level par and began to look for opportunities, the first of which came at the 10th. His irons were dialled in on the back nine and that led to birdies at the 13th and 15th, both of which are par-threes.

 

Coetzee hit 18 out of 28 fairways over the first two days and that helped him to keep away from trouble. Building momentum is important at Royal Liverpool and his confidence will be high after birdieing the 18th for a Friday 69.

 

“In retrospect it feels like an important birdie and it’s nice to get a bit of confidence into the weekend. Being in a good position come the weekend is always going to be a learning curve, even when you think you know it all,” he said.

 

The South African was the early clubhouse leader on five-under, but overnight leader Rory McIlroy was yet to begin his second round. The Northern Irish youngster carded an impeccable 66 during the first round to set the pace at six-under-par.

 

The conditions on Friday were tricky and a slight breeze gave the links added defence against the world’s best. Coetzee managed to keep ahead of trouble with some good putting and averaged less than one and a half putts per hole.

 

As the wind picks up and the course firms his iron play and putting will become more important, but the Pretoria local has grown from strength to strength over the last two days. Moving day awaits and Coetzee seems to be ready for a rise to contention in the majors.

 

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