He started his tournament on the East Course – players have a round on each of the East and West courses ahead of the halfway cut to 65 players and ties – and he made seven birdies and a bogey on the par-72 layout, while his good friend Titch Moore carded an eight-under 63 on the par-71 West Course to share the early lead with Thomas Pieters of Belgium.
When Coetsee was told Moore was going to have ‘a chop and a chill’ after his round – which included an ace on the fifth – he responded, “We’re best mates, so I’ll take on the chop, but I think I’m going to throw in a bit of boerewors as well.”
And with three Open Championship places up for grabs in the tournaments for players not otherwise already qualified, Coetsee also had his mate covered in his desire to get one of those spots. “Getting to The Open at St Andrews would be a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve never played there, but I’ve always watched it on TV. But the cherry on top would be if Titch and I both make it – we’ll take a little portable braai in our golf bags!”
For the 42-year-old, this round has showed him yet again that some dramatic life changes have been worth it.
He had a demanding painting business in Tzaneen, a place he lived for the first 38 years of his life, and he was on the verge of giving up professional golf to concentrate on his ‘real’ job. “My wife said we should move to Jefferys Bay – I have no idea why,” he recalled. “But we moved, and I have to thank her, because since we moved there, there has been such great progress in my game.”
The figures show that: He had slipped to 109th in the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in 2010, but he was up to 26th last year, with his second Sunshine Tour victory coming in the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open after a 17-year gap after his first win. He also won over R700,000 for his most lucrative year in 23 on the tour.
“This year, the aim is top five or 10,” he said. “I’m just loving the game. I’m like the kid who’d just started playing on tour. I’m up at five in the morning, cleaning my clubs and my shoes. I can’t wait to play – it’s great to have that feeling.”
There have been further benefits to his move one of the world’s premier surfing destinations. “I think I hit the ball further than I used to now,” he said. “When I moved two-and-a-half years ago, I had to learn to hit it lower and with a lot of tempo. So it’s about guiding it, but with good club head speed. And when I come back to Johannesburg, I actually amaze myself by how far I hit it.”
He used that to card his best-ever score on the East Course, and he’s thrilled that he’s taken a step towards contending over the weekend.
But first things first: “When I saw Titch was six-under through nine, I said to myself that I had to make sure the braai tasted nice this afternoon.”
The way Moore can cook, you can bet the great scores didn’t have to add too much flavour to the chops and boerewors.