28th February 2018 | Sunshine Tour
George Coetzee knows a thing or two about Pretoria Country Club, and the 2015 Tshwane Open champion aims to make use of that knowledge as he tees off in the 2018 edition of the R15-million tournament on Thursday.
The 31-year-old has won eight times on the Sunshine Tour, and because he learnt the game at the course on which this week’s tournament is being played, he has some extra insights into what it might take to win.
“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,” he said. “Obviously it helps to know the golf course and where to miss it, but I’ll try and keep it straight this week.”
Coetzee has had a relatively quiet 2017-18 season on the Sunshine Tour – nothing to be sneezed at with two top-10s and a 13th in his five starts – but he recently showed a welcome return to form when he shared eighth in last week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on the European Tour.
“2018 has been a little bit of everything so far,” he said. “But if the game’s good, then I’ll play well. It’s too complicated to explain, but I’m working on a few things. It’s a work in progress. I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks and I’ve actually played quite well.”
That good form is something that he will want to add to his local knowledge so he can have an edge during the Tshwane Open. “There’s a certain way I like to play the course, but my game during the week kind of dictates what I can and can’t do,” he said. “At the moment, there’s a certain way I play it, but if the swing comes off nicely, then I’ll be able to be a little more aggressive.
“Key holes? The fourth usually plays as a par-five and that’s a very tough par-four this week – I think it was in the top five or top 10 on the European Tour for the toughest holes. Other than that, there are a lot of opportunities out there. If you can get off the front nine under par, then just try and stay in touch on the back nine.”
Despite the challenge posed by the fourth, Coetzee is simply relishing the opportunity to sleep in his own bed for the week. “I get to stay at home for more events than the European Tour guys, which is nice,” he said. “It’s great to play in an event as big as this on my home track.”
And he wants to take the opportunity to kickstart his 2018 international campaign. “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 maybe jump up the Race to Dubai rankings on the European Tour. I just want to play well and put myself in a good space for the rest of the year.”
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