George Coetzee earned a spot at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am this February. On Saturday the three-time European Tour winner will begin the third round tied for 27th, joined by Phil Mickelson and Smylie Kaufman on three-over-par.
There is no cut at this week’s $9,5-million tournament, which features seven of the best 10 golfers in the world. Coetzee has played his way into the thick of things with rounds of 71 and 72, but faces a tough weekend.
Behind him on the leaderboard are a range of household names, ahead of him by a stroke is Dustin Johnson, the recent US Open winner.
Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel are thereabouts, both in a share of 14th alongside six others, including Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.
Coetzee could grab a juicy top-10 result if he finds an extra gear. It’s not about the prize money, but rather the world ranking. Yes, 10th place took home over $149,000 last year, but top 60 in the world is the real prize, because that elite group of players get exemption into the biggest tournaments.
Coetzee currently ranks 116th in the world, but in 2012 he finished the year at 49th , so he knows what it takes.
On offer this week at Firestone Country Club are ranking points galore and the quality of the field adds to the value. The World Golf Championship has lost a few players to the 100th Open de France, but most of the competition chose Ohio.
Coetzee has played against them enough times to know what it takes. He’s got the game and has a big two days ahead.