South African, George Coetzee has spent a lot of his career hanging around leaderboards, but on Sunday he picked up his first win at the Joburg Open. The 27 year-old from Pretoria, South Africa fired a final round -6 under par 66 on the East Course at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Course to secure his first European Tour Victory.
Forgetting to get his mum something for her birthday on Saturday, he decided his first tour win would be a nice gift. He survived a three-shot lead, and outlasted third round co-leaders, Thomas Aiken, and Justin Walters who are both Johannesburg residents. Walters shot one over on Sunday, and Aikens was two over.
Coetzee went bogey-free in the finale’ but got into trouble having driven left towards a stream on the 15th hole, his ball ricocheted off a tree and back onto the fairway before a 20 foot putt secured an unlikely birdie. It was all downhill from there, and with the win, the 75th ranked player in the world will get his invitation to Royal Liverpool for the Open Championship.
“I don’t know what I’m feeling,” said Coetzee, whose victory came at the 107th time of asking. “I’m lost for words.
“I’ve been waiting a while and I started doubting, so I’m very happy.
“I got to share this with my family and my friends. It was my mum’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to do it for her as I forgot to buy her a present!”
The three second-place finishers, Brit, Tyrrell Hatton, South Korean Jin Jeong, and local boy, Justin Walters all finished three strokes back. With only three openings at the Open Championship and winner Coetzee getting one of the bids, Hatton was the odd-man out. His World ranking of 276 cost him the trip to Liverpool.
Johannesburg-born Walters’ search for a first European Tour title goes on after a closing 73, but the 33-year-old has the consolation of a first Major Championship at Royal Liverpool in July.
Jeong, a winner in Perth at the end of 2013, closed with a 71 to secure a return to The Open, where he finished an impressive tied for 14th in 2010, while Hatton’s 66 secured a best European Tour finish of his fledgling career.
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