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12th January 2016 | Sunshine Tour

Coetzee: Locals can extend Joburg Open dominance

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16_JO_CoetzeeG_previewNEWHe won the Joburg Open in 2014, and George Coetzee would be quite happy to see a South African win the 10th edition of the tournament which gets underway at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Thursday.

Locals have taken seven of the nine tournaments played so far, with only Ariel Canete of Argentina, who won the inaugural version in 2007, and 2015 champion Andy Sullivan spoiling the hosts record in it.

The 72-hole stroke play event sees each of the 210 players in the field play a round on each of the East and West courses at Royal, with the final 36 being played on the East Course.

With Coetzee the last South African to win it, his thoughts on what makes the tournament so attractive to locals were instructive. I think its preparation. Its not really a golf course the foreign guys get to see too often and then its a tournament on two courses too, he said. The overseas guys come here and do their two practice rounds and theyre tired.

I mean, I dont even play the West Course any more. I cant remember the last time I played a practice round on the West Course. But I think South Africans know the course, but maybe its also the texture of the grass. Its not something the Europeans are used to or enjoy really, because its a different texture and its quite hard to chip off and hit some shots out of it. I think were just used to it.

Weve played a lot of amateur golf here and the guys whove made it through the ranks have got a bit of a head start here. Hopefully the local dominance continues, and theres a spot inside the top 10 for me this week, he added.

Coetzee has been off for some time with a broken ankle sustained in a surfing accident, of all things. His return to tournament golf in last weeks BMW SA Open Championship was not too inspiring, but hes hoping that things are on the up for him. Ive got a lot of work to do to catch up with these guys playing out here now, but Im working on some good stuff and Im excited about the game, he said. Its just a question of when do we get there.

And if his game is good, Coetzee, unlike the visitors to Royal, is comfortable with what he needs to do around the place. When you win a tournament, you can finally say Ive got my game plan down for this golf course. So the homework for this golf course isnt that much just the preparations in terms of the game itself playing, hitting good shots.

But at least when I come to this course I know what club to hit on each tee box, so theres not too much thinking just playing.


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