Mulroy, Coetzee in Order of Merit battle

It may come down to the duel down the stretch of the Alfred Dunhill Championship as Garth Mulroy and George Coetzee fight it out for the 2011 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.

While there is still next week’s lucrative and important SA Open Championship up the sleeves of the contenders, the fact that Mulroy and Coetzee have manoeuvred themselves into a position to win the €1-million event at Leopard Creek this week has given them the inside track to take the Sid Brews Trophy.

Mulroy began the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship in the lead at 15-under-par, with George Coetzee five shots off the pace.

And, ahead of the climax of the tournament, Mulroy is second on the Order of Merit with R1,548,847, while Coetzee is fourth with R1,062,036.

Charl Schwartzel leads the Order of Merit, but he won’t be playing the SA Open and neither will he have played in enough tournaments – six – to qualify for the trophy. And Louis Oosthuizen in third is in the same position.

With R1,705,460 for the winner at Leopard Creek, the importance of finishing well for Mulroy and Coetzee is evident. A victory for one and a poor finish for the other would all but sew up the Order of Merit, given the fact that conventional golf wisdom says it’s difficult to contend in two consecutive weeks.

However, 2008 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Richard Sterne bucked that convention by winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the SA Open Championship in consecutive weeks.

For Mulroy and Coetzee, today’s round will be all they’re thinking about.

But there will be not too distant dreams of the glory winning the Order of Merit brings, as well as the doors it opens: Entry into the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the Open Championship, some of the World Golf Championships events, and the Dunhill Links Championship.

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