George Coetzee picked up exactly where he left off when the Vodacom Origins of Golf series was last played on the Sunshine Tour, and that’s with his name at the top of the leaderboard.
Coetzee won the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf final, the last time the series was played. It had to be cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But when it returned to the schedule this week, Coetzee looked right at home in a series where he won his first professional title, and where he has three wins in total.
He opened with a nine-under-par 63 at De Zalze Golf Estate on Wednesday to lead by one over a quality leaderboard.
“I came into this week well rested and in a good space mentally. My focus at the moment is to give myself a good chance every time I tee it up,” said Coetzee.
Jaco Ahlers is Coetzee’s nearest challenger after his bogey-free 64. Jean-Paul Strydom started his tournament in third place with a 65. Dylan Naidoo and Paul Boshoff joined the in-form Jaco Prinsloo, already a two-time winner this year and Oliver Bekker, fresh from the Challenge Tour where he’s currently ranked sixth in the chase to earn a European Tour card, on six under. And both Toto Thimba Jnr and Keenan Davidse showed a welcome return to form with their rounds of three-under-par 69.
But all will be chasing Coetzee who, after an early bogey on the second hole, looked in total control of his game from there on. He birdied four in five holes over the turn, and then closed with four birdies in his final five holes.
“At the start of the round I didn’t feel like I was playing well. But I just stayed patient and kept my thoughts positive.”
Coetzee was also full of praise for a De Zalze course he hasn’t played since his amateur days. “I remember playing an SA Amateur here. I don’t think I’ve played the course since, maybe once in a social round. I can’t remember. But it’s definitely a world-class course.”
And he’s given himself an equally world-class start in a Vodacom Origins of Golf series he has fond memories of.
“I remember very well that first professional victory in 2007 on this series. Vodacom has done so much for golf in South Africa, and we’re fortunate to have them on the Sunshine Tour and to be playing these tournaments.” – Michael Vlismas