George Coetzee is relishing the return of the Joburg Open as he gears up for the three co-sanctioned events with the European Tour.
Coetzee claimed the first of his five victories on the European Tour at the event back in 2014, and is excited about its return to the South African golfing calendar for the first time in three years.
‘I’ve always thought that the Joburg Open is one of the most beautiful trophies on Tour, probably because it was my first European Tour win. I’m very excited that it’s making its comeback on the Tour. It’s been missed the last couple of years,’ he said.
The 34-year-old experienced a brilliant return to action on the Sunshine Tour in September by winning the Titleist Championship at his home course at the Pretoria Country Club before he triumphed at the Portugal Masters a week later.
But, Coetzee is still firmly aware of the impact his first Tour victory at the Joburg Open had on him in paving the way to perform with the best there is.
‘When I think back on it now, I feel very lucky to have won the Joburg Open in 2014. I remember I was so nervous and I hit some shaky shots in the final round. I started that final round a few shots behind which made it a little bit easier to be more aggressive. But it was nice to tick that box of a first European Tour win because it gave me the confidence to know I can do it, and I used that confidence for my other European Tour wins.
‘This year’s victory in Portugal was another box ticked because it was always my goal to win in Europe. I targeted a couple of events where I thought I’d have a really good opportunity of winning, and Portugal was one of them. It all worked out pretty well that week.
‘Hopefully I can put a similar plan together for these three upcoming co-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa. I’m very excited about these three tournaments. I think the Sunshine Tour and European Tour have done a great job in getting these co-sanctioned tournaments to take place this year. I think everybody is very excited for the opportunity to play some serious golf.’
Bongi Mokaba, director of events for the City of Johannesburg, added: ‘We’re delighted to have George confirm his place in the field as not only a great former champion of this tournament, but also a current European Tour champion. The Joburg Open was launched with a vision to be a tournament of opportunity in a world-class African city, and it has certainly been this as it helped to tee off George’s international career.’