Wallie ends 17 year title drought in Zambia

On Sunday Wallie Coetsee lifted his first trophy in 17 years after winning the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open and it was an emotional moment for the 42-year-old.

 

“There are no words to describe how this feels, it’s just so special. I knew that victory was close and today it came down to having 22 years of experience. I hit the shots like I practice them every day,” he said.

 

A crucial par save at the 12th hole set him on course for the victory, but the Jeffrey’s Bay local had to dig deep to prevent runners-up Danie van Tonder and Justin Harding from catching up.

 

“At the 12th I hit my five iron into the long grass and had a terrible lie,” Coetsee recalled. “I tried to play it out and it only went about 10 metres and it was still in the rough. I hit an incredible chip after that and it stopped about a metre from the pin. That was the turning point and I could focus on the job from there.”

 

The big man from Jeffrey’s Bay shot 71 for the final round to finish 15-under-par for the tournament, one shot clear of second place. The new champion was overwhelmed after he signed his card in score recording and the victory sank in.

 

“We live to play tournament golf, to be in contention, and to feel that adrenaline. There’s no better feeling than making those big shots and to walk down the last like I did today,” he said.

 

His name graced leaderboards throughout the week and rounds of 65, 69, 68 made him the 54-hole leader. It came down to Sunday, as always, and Coetsee produced the goods.

 

“It’s not about winning, it’s about grinding every week. You try to get those top 10s and wait for your week, but that does take a lot of patience,” he said.

 

There were extra celebrations for Allan Versfeld and Jaco Prinsloo, both of whom made a hole-in-one during the week to win a car. Versfeld took home a Jeep Cherokee during the first round after holing out at the third from a 151 metres with an eight-iron. On Sunday Prinsloo won a Toyota Corolla with a pitching wedge from 131 metres at the 11th.

 

But the day belonged to Coetsee and he savoured the victory.

 

“After all these years playing on the Sunshine Tour it helped to have the experience and slow myself down when things got intense. I was so relaxed on the course and really enjoyed playing today. But to win…it’s hard to tell you how great it feels right now,” he said.

 

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