2nd March 2018 | Sunshine Tour
George Coetzee converted home-town advantage into the second-round lead on Friday at Pretoria Country Club as he fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 64 to edge one clear in the Tshwane Open.
He made six birdies on his opening nine holes after starting on the 10th, and just one on his way home, but it was enough to edge him ahead of Miko Korhonen of Finland and Chile’s Felipe Aguilar, who carded 64 and 67 respectively to take up second behind Coetzee at the halfway mark.
“The course doesn’t suit my game 100 percent, but I grew up on it and I have figured out a way to play it,” said Coetzee going into the tournament. “It’s just nice being at home and playing an event where you know everyone supports you.”
He had it all figured out on his opening nine on Friday. “It was a nice stretch on the back nine – my front nine – where I got a couple of birdies in a row,” he said. It was actually four in a row from 12 to 15, and he picked up two more on 17 and 18.
“On the front nine – my back nine – I felt like I played pretty well. I just didn’t get the ball in the hole but I guess that’s the way golf works. I played really badly on the front nine yesterday, and I still shot two-under. Today I played pretty well and I shot one-under,” he added.
Korhonen, who finished second in last year’s Tshwane Open, also started on the 10th. He dropped a shot after the turn on the first, but eagled the ninth to slip into second with Aguilar. “I putted pretty well, as I have been doing the last couple of days,” said Korhonen. “I holed a couple of 40-footers out there and made all the short ones.”
Aguilar, who carded a fine 65 in his opening round by making a virtue of being really conservative, made a pair of bogeys on his way in which somewhat spoiled his second round. “Unfortunately, one of the drops was on the last hole and I didn’t have any more holes to recover from it,” he said. “My putting was really good but for the last one I missed on 18.”
On seven-under, behind the leading three, were South Africans Justin Walters who signed for a 68, reigning Zimbabwe Open champion JC Ritchie who carded a 67, Louis de Jager who finished level-par and Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia who shot 69.
With the weekend ahead, Coetzee can look back on what he said ahead of the tournament with some satisfaction. “I haven’t come to my home course thinking I just want to make the cut,” he said. “It would be nice to build some momentum for the rest of the season.”
And he knows exactly how to do it at Pretoria Country Club. “I’ll try and just focus on playing decent golf and posting good numbers for the weekend,” he said.
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