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Ken Borland



Air of inevitability as Schwartzel wins Tshwane Open 0

Posted on February 15, 2016 by Ken

 

There was an air of inevitability early in the final round that Charl Schwartzel would win the Tshwane Open, but the world number 43 impressed everybody with the sheer quality of his play to shoot a brilliant 63 and win the co-sanctioned title by a massive eight strokes at Pretoria Country Club on Sunday.

An eagle on the par-five ninth hole after a superb second shot from the semi-rough meant Schwartzel was four ahead of Zander Lombard at the turn and huge birdie putts of 40 and 35 feet respectively on the two par-threes coming in, the 14th and 16th, sealed the deal for the former Masters champion.

Young Lombard had started the day just one stroke behind Schwartzel, but wilted as the pressure of playing in the lead two-ball with one of South Africa’s best golfers began to weigh heavily on him, the wheels eventually coming off with double-bogeys on 16 and 17 as the Joburg Open runner-up crashed to a 74 and a share of seventh place.

“On the first three days I hit the ball well above standard but my putting was below standard. So it was very satisfying that the putting came right in the final round, today was a big step forward. I’ve played a lot here and it’s good to play on familiar ground, it makes your chances better. This has certainly boosted my confidence and I’m excited to get back to America,” Schwartzel said.

Schwartzel collected seven birdies and an eagle, offset by two bogeys, to finish on 16-under-par for the lowest score and biggest winning margin in the event’s four-year history. The 31-year-old once again relied on his superior ability with the long-irons to separate himself from the rest of the field to dramatic effect.

“I’ve always had the capability to hit my long-irons longer and more accurately than most golfers, which is a big advantage. It means I can hit a six-iron where others are taking a four-iron, which gives me more loft and allows me to eliminate a lot of unnecessary mistakes. From a young age I’ve been able to hit my long-irons very well,” Schwartzel said.

As Lombard tumbled down the leaderboard after his tee-shot on 16 strayed on to the edge of the moat next to the green, it allowed Denmark’s Jeff Winther to be the sole runner-up as he calmly soared up the leaderboard with a 64 to finish on eight-under-par.

Schwartzel’s other challengers were all washed away in the eddies of his brilliance, with Anthony Michael finishing third after a level-par 70 left him on six-under-par and Haydn Porteous slipped to a 73 and a share of 10th place on three-under-par with Brandon Stone (66) and Jaco van Zyl (67).

Justin Walters, Richard Sterne and Dean Burmester all climbed the leaderboard to finish in a tie for fourth on five-under-par, while Australian Brett Rumford and Scotland’s Jamie McLeary finished with Lombard in seventh on four-under-par.

 

Coetzee rides wave of home support to win Tshwane Open 0

Posted on January 01, 2016 by Ken

 

George Coetzee rode a wave of huge home club support to shoot a five-under-par 65 and win the Tshwane Open by one stroke in a thrilling final round at Pretoria Country Club yesterday.

Coetzee began playing golf at the Waterkloof course and won his first tournament there as a 10-year-old, so the genial 28-year-old had plenty of support as he edged out Jacques Blaauw, who fired a tremendous 61, with a birdie on the 17th hole.

“I loved the fans, when I was growing up you dream about playing in front of galleries like that and the crowd just seemed to get bigger and bigger. There were hundreds of people following our group and I recognised a lot of them. I never thought, as a kid, that I’d be playing a European Tour event at my home club, so it’s unreal to win here,” Coetzee said after finishing on 14-under-par 266.

Coetzee was one of six golfers who shared the lead after the third round, but with Craig Lee (70), Adrian Otaegui (71), Wallie Coetsee (76), David Horsey (73) and Trevor Fisher Junior (75) all fading away in the final round, it was left to Blaauw, who teed off an hour-and-three-quarters before Coetzee, to set a target with a blistering round that included four successive birdies from the sixth hole and two-in-a-row to finish.

In the end it came down to whether Coetzee, who had picked up four birdies in five holes from the sixth to catch Blaauw on 13-under, could gain one more shot in the closing holes, or alternatively falter as he pushed too hard.

But that’s where home course knowledge kicked in and Coetzee showed great temperament. The crucial shot was his second on 17 after he hit his driver well right, between the trees, but a delicate, skilful chip left him with a five-foot putt for birdie.

“I had a good game plan mentally and I was waiting for 17, which is usually a birdie chance. It didn’t happen exactly how I wanted, but I know there are gaps between the bunkers there. Today it was about mixing aggressiveness with cleverness and I was very happy with my ball-striking, I was loving my driver. Most of my wins have been due to my putting, so it was nice for my ball-striking to come through today,” Coetzee said.

Not allowing his hand to be forced was crucial for Coetzee and he showed similar patience at the start of his round when he reeled off five straight pars before a monster-drive at the sixth set up his first birdie.

“I’ve played those first three holes a thousand times and they’re probably the trickiest on the course, and then the fourth they made a par-four this week. So that’s not where I wanted to make my charge, it’s easy to drop shots there, but I knew when I stepped on to the sixth tee that it was time,” Coetzee said.

Being able to deliver the goods under pressure also means the changes to Coetzee’s game, which includes simplifying his pre-shot routine again, are bearing fruit.

South Africans Dean Burmester and Tjaart van der Walt both shot three-under 67s to join Lee in a tie for third on nine-under, while Otaegui dropped back to eight-under to share sixth with Jaco Ahlers.

 

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