George Coetzee won his second European Tour title at the Tshwane Open last year in front of a packed home crowd. He returns to Pretoria Country Club this week to defend the title and his local knowledge will come in handy.
‘It’s where I grew up. I played my first event there so to win last year was a dream come true. It’s my home course and I’ve got a lot of good memories, so I probably know the course better than anyone,’ he said.
The 29-year-old shot a five-under par 65 during the final round in 2015 to nab a one-shot victory, totalling 14-under par for the week and edging out Jacques Blaauw, who had flown around in 61 to post the early target.
‘I still need to play very well to win,’ said Coetzee. ‘Knowing the course gives me a bit of a head start on some of the guys, but the standard on the tour is so high, just knowing the place well isn’t going to be enough. It is quite a thinker’s course though, so the guys who have played it before do have a bit of an advantage.’
He’s four for four in cuts made this year and recently shared seventh place at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Title defence is the next challenge for the three-time European Tour champ at a course that he loves.
‘I know I’m playing well, which only adds to the excitement of the tournament. I’ve struck the ball very well the last three weeks but mentally I haven’t been quite as sharp as I would’ve liked, maybe because I haven’t been used to posting really low scores for a while! But if I can get my head right, then I should have a good chance,’ he said.