Getting better for Charl ahead of Mooinooi

Charl Coetzee spent some extra time working on his chipping and putting on Wednesday ahead of the Platinum Classic presented by UD Trucks and recalled how his 12th-place finish in last year’s event was achieved despite steadily worsening shoulder pain.

“It was at the point where my shoulder injury was about to reach its worst point,” he recalled, “and eventually it got bad enough for me to accept that I would have to have surgery.”

With the R500,000 event over 54 holes at Mooinooi Golf Club ahead of him, he is now riding a resurgence of form which has seen him rack up three top 10s in his last three tournaments as he goes in search of his maiden Sunshine Tour victory.

He came seventh in the Telkom PGA Pro-Am, third in the Northern Cape Classic and fourth in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at Legend.

“It’s my chipping and putting that was something of a weak link in those tournaments,” he said.

That might have been so, but in truth the results have been indicative of a return to pain-free swings and a burgeoning self-confidence which will make him a dangerous customer for anyone else trying to win the tournament.

Hennie Otto is in town, and, although he has had a relatively quiet European Tour campaign, is quite capable of going very low.

He won the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February, and there are eight other 2011 Sunshine Tour winners in the field at Mooinooi, including the defending champion Jean Hugo, who has taken three titles on the circuit this year already.

Of those champions, the man who fared best in last year’s Platinum Classic was Zimbabwe Open winner Theunis Spangenberg, who took a share of sixth, six shots behind Hugo.

But the man who finished in the top 10 in the Tour Championship as an amateur in 2006 is going to be a formidable opponent this week: Coetzee will bring a combination of talent, determination and relief to his game.

“I avoided surgery for my shoulder for a long time,” he said, “because I started to harbour doubts about whether I would be able to play again if something went wrong.

“In the end, I just had to go under the knife,” he added.

And it’s getting better all the time.

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