Wallie Coetsee carded a six-under-par 64 in the first round of the Tshwane Open on Thursday, but his mind was very much on next week’s Investec Cup as he made five birdies, and eagle and a bogey at Pretoria Country Club.
He trailed 2013 South African Open champion Morten Orum Madsen by one stroke after the Dane aced the 122-metre eighth and eagled ninth after starting his round on the 10th, and finished with a flourish for his seven-under-par 63.
Coetsee, who had a career-changing share of second in the Joburg Open two weeks back, which carried with it over R1-million in prize money, has been looking to be part of the action in the Investec Cup for nearly a year. “I said to my caddie that we need to play for Investec Cup, that’s the motivation,” he said.
The Investec Cup is the culmination of a year-long chase for points, starting with the Telkom Business PGA Championship and ending with the Tshwane Open. The top 30 players on the Chase to the Investec Cup Bonus Pool ranking after the Tshwane Open will qualify for the season-ending tournament next week at Millvale Private Resort and the Lost City at Sun City.
The Investec Bonus Pool will carry total prize money of R10-million with R3.5-million going to the winner. The Investec Cup will carry total prize money of R1-million with R 163,400 going to the winner.
“I always think of winning, but I just want to give Trevor Fisher Jnr a run for his money at the Investec Cup,” said Coetsee. “He can’t run away with it again!”
Fisher Jnr won his first tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour in last week’s Africa Open in East London, and carded a solid four-under-par 66 to start his challenge at this week’s Tshwane Open.
Coetsee played with every sign of the increased self-assurance his Joburg Open performance has given him. “This whole game is all about momentum,” he said. “I made one bogey today and kept it ticking over for most of the round.
“When you start hitting the ball nicely you build confidence. It’s all about confidence. In the mornings you just warm up, there’s no swing doctors, you don’t think of a lot of things. Confidence helps you to keep it simple and hit the shots.
“Today was special, because it went my way. On the last hole I hit a four-iron and it clipped a tree and came straight back into the middle of the fairway. On the 12th, my third hole, I had a 60-metre shot and it took one bounce and released into the cup for eagle.”
He’s brought simple enjoyment to the top of the leaderboard, and that helps him focus on bigger things than simply winning one tournament. “If you enjoy golf like me then there is no pressure. I love it out here and want to compete. I can’t wait for next week for the Investec Cup. It’s nice to be here, it’s special,” he said.