Coetzee claims maiden European Tour title

10 February 2014

South Africa’s George Coetzee captured his first European Tour title on Sunday when he lifted the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.

Before the event, which is co-santioned by the Sunshine Tour, Coetzee had recorded 24 top-10 finishes, but on the 25th occasion he made sure of victory, winning by three shots on 19-under-par 268 after closing with a six-under-par 66.

‘You need a little bit of luck’

“You need a little bit of luck to win these things,” he told the Sunshine Tour website afterwards.

“On 15 I pulled my driver and that was the decider, because it should have gone into the water, but instead it hit a tree and bounced back into the fairway.

“You always have this plan in mind for yourself when you’re coming down the stretch and it never goes the way you think it will. I’m very happy to have finished the job,” he said.

‘You need a little bit of luck’

With the Joburg Open serving as qualifying event for the new Open Qualifying Series, Coetzee also secured a place at this year’s Open Championship, which takes place at Royal Liverpool in July.

Fellow South African Justin Walters and South Korea’s Jin Jeong shared second place with Tyrell Hutton on 16-under-par 271 and were also rewarded with guaranteed places at The Open. Hutton missed out based on his world ranking.

Interviewed on Radio 702 on Monday morning, Coetzee said he hoped his victory would lead to him receiving an invitation to play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He also said he looked forward to contesting the Volvo Golf Champions, which is open to winners of European Tour events during the season, and to those players that have won 10 or more European Tour titles in their careers.

World ranking

His victory lifted him from 73rd in the Official World Golf Rankings up to 59th place, behind only Charl Schwartzel (18), Louis Oosthuizen (34), Ernie Els (35), and Branden Grace (47).

Coetzee’s victory was the sixth by a South African in the eight years the tournament has been held. He succeeded Richard Sterne as champion.

‘Mixed emotions’

Walters was tied for the lead after three rounds with Thomas Aiken on 17-under-par and admitted he had mixed emotions after finishing second. “[At the] beginning of the week if you gave me second place, I would have put my feet up and taken it, but given the situation I’m a little disappointed,” Walters said.

“It’s bittersweet, though, because I’ve earned a place at The Open and that’s the major we’ve all dreamed of playing in since we were kids.”

The European Tour next moves to the East London Golf Club for the Africa Open, which it co-sanctions with the Sunshine Tour. The event tees off on Thursday, 13 February.

LEADERBOARD

  • George Coetzee (RSA) 268 (-19) 65, 68, 69, 66
  • Tyrell Hatton (Eng) 271 (-16) 67, 69, 69, 66
  • Jin Jeong (Kor) 271 (-16) 65, 69, 66, 71
  • Justin Walters (RSA) 271 (-16) 64, 70, 64, 73
  • Andy Sullivan (Eng) 272 (-15) 66, 72, 69, 65
  • Alvaro Quiros (Esp) 272 (-15) 69, 68, 69, 66
  • Matthew Baldwin 272 (-15) 68, 69, 68, 67
  • Thomas Aiken (RSA) 272 (-15) 70, 65, 53, 74
  • Danie van Tonder (RSA) 273 (-14) 65, 72, 69, 67
  • Seve Benson (Eng) 274 (-13) 68, 68, 70, 68
  • Ross Fisher (Eng) 274 (-13) 69, 69, 68, 68
  • Robert-Jan Derksen (Ned) 274 (-13) 65, 74, 67, 68
  • Anthony Wall (Eng) 274 (-13) 60, 70, 66, 69
  • David Horsey (Eng) 274 (-13) 70, 63, 70, 71
  • Roope Kakko (Fin) 274 (-13) 70, 64, 67, 73