Wallie Coetsee heads into the final round of the Tshwane Open on Sunday riding the crest of a wave of confidence – and a little chastened by his experience in the final round of the Joburg Open where he finished second for the biggest payday of his 23-year professional golf career.
“You learn from your mistakes,” said Coetsee after his third-round two-under-par 68 moved him into a six-way share of the lead at Pretoria Country Club. “If everything is going well, then there’s seems to be nothing to learn.
“And on that last day at Joburg Open, I was nearly late for my tee time after I didn’t check the details properly and they had brought the tee times forward by six minutes from what they had been for the third round. So I assumed something instead of making sure. I just about had to run onto that first tee, so I wasn’t settled when I started.”
And that wasn’t the only ‘mistake’ Coetsee made during that roller-coaster round which saw him card a one-under 71 with three birdies and two bogeys to trail winner Andy Sullivan by two strokes, and to narrowly miss out on one of three Open Championship spots which were up for grabs.
“It was on the 14th,” recalled Coetsee, “that I noticed my playing partner lifted his ball out of a divot on the fairway. When I asked him what he was doing, he told me that there was placing during the final round.
“Because I was in such a rush on the first tee, I hadn’t even taken in that detail. And two holes earlier, I had a lie close to the green, with my ball on the fairway, but up against the fringe of the first cut of the rough. If I had been aware that I could have placed my ball, I would have been able to put my ball close and take par.
“Instead, I had a difficult chip, a long putt with which I was too aggressive, because I had to make it to save par and I ended up making bogey – that one little mistake alone cost me the opportunity to play in the Open.”
The great surge in confidence Coetsee has experienced since that Joburg Open finish has set off a run of great form, and he goes into the final round of the Tshwane Open believing that the other players in that leading group will be the ones experiencing the pressure, rather than him.
And with his deep desire to win a European Tour card to go with the one he earned on the Asian Tour in January, he will be thinking very carefully of the lessons he learned from his mistakes two weeks ago.
“I hope the final round of the Tshwane Open doesn’t teach me anything,” he laughed.