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Ken Borland



Coetzee scrambles but remains in front 0

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Ken

 

George Coetzee said he felt like he was either making pars or scrambling for them in the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final at Millvale Private Retreat near Koster, outside Rustenburg, on Friday, but he nevertheless still reached the halfway mark of the elite 30-man tournament with a two-stroke lead.

Coetzee, who shared the overnight lead with Charl Schwartzel, shot a two-under-par 70 on Friday to go to six-under for the tournament.

Jaco van Zyl, who was the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup champion in 2013, produced the best round of the tournament – a five-under-par 67 – to leap up the leaderboard to second on four-under.

Schwartzel is tied with Justin Harding four strokes back on two-under-par, but there is some doubt as to whether South Africa’s highest-ranked golfer will be able to complete the tournament due to a swollen and painful shoulder.

Darren Fichardt, Dean Burmester and Jean Hugo are also all still in contention on one-under-par.

“I survived – it was another tough day. I didn’t play as well today, I was just making pars and scrambling. I drove the ball better yesterday, but I putted better today. I’m where I want to be, but there’s still a lot of golf to play,” Coetzee said.

Any time you go round the 6839-metre Millvale course with just one dropped shot is a remarkable effort given the slick greens, the amount of water all over the course and the tricky pin-positions, but that is what Coetzee and Van Zyl managed, despite the tricky wind that made the first round so tough still being around.

Van Zyl’s bogey came on the par-five sixth and it was thanks to some unwanted company at the most unfortunate time.

“On six I hit a good tee-shot, I was in the middle of the fairway with the perfect yardage into the green. But then on my downswing, a bee landed on my ball and I hit it straight right into the water, leading to bogey,” Van Zyl explained.

Coetzee’s bogey on the par-five seventh was associated with the wind as he misjudged his club selection and sent his approach over the green.

Coetzee established his lead with birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, while Van Zyl rebounded superbly from his bogey with three birdies in four holes from the eighth, and then sealed a brilliant 67 with another birdie on the 14th.

Van Zyl said the secret to his success was staying patient and hanging in there on a tough course.

“You’ve just got to try and stick around here, it’s a great test of golf with the firm greens, the flags tucked away and a lot of water. If you start on the 10th then you have seven really tough holes on the trot from the 15th to the third and you just try for level-par,” the 36-year-old said.

The tournament now moves to the Lost City course at Sun City for the last two rounds, and Van Zyl said the going would be easier.

“It should be a bit easier at Lost City on Saturday and Sunday, there’s a bit more scoring opportunities. I’m hitting the ball well, so I look forward to that,” Van Zyl said.

http://citizen.co.za/347795/coetzee-reaches-halfway-mark/

Schwartzel & Coetzee lead after daunting day at Millvale 0

Posted on February 05, 2016 by Ken

 

Millvale Private Retreat is a little-known championship course hidden away in the fertile bushveld between the Magaliesburg and Pilanesberg ranges and there is very limited access for golfers, which is maybe not such a bad thing considering how darn difficult it was to play on the opening day of the Chase to the Investec Cup final on Thursday.

With slick greens, numerous bunkers and a gusting, awkward wind, Millvale put the top 30 golfers on the Sunshine Tour to the test and it was no surprise the two who came out tops were class performers in Charl Schwartzel and George Coetzee.

They both shot four-under-par 68s and were three shots ahead of Justin Harding and Shaun Norris, the only other golfers to break par.

Schwartzel is trying to groove his swing ahead of the Masters, which starts at Augusta on April 9, and he seems to be making rapid progress in that regard, as well as cracking the code for how to succeed at Millvale.

“For a while now I’ve been working out my swing and it’s getting better and better. It’s a matter of trusting it out on the course, because it doesn’t matter on the range. So today was a good round in hard conditions, it was challenging and anything under par was good,” Schwartzel said.

In terms of Masters preparation, the greens were also to Schwartzel’s liking, although he said Augusta would ask even more of his putter.

“The greens definitely had speed and they’re up with the best I’ve seen here. You don’t often get greens at this speed in South Africa and I was very pleased to see that. We’re not used to having that in South Africa and when I played Lost City on Tuesday, the greens there were very slow, so I hope they speed them up for our two rounds there on Saturday and Sunday.

“But today was more than good enough practice for Augusta, although the greens there have even more slope and the ball just doesn’t stop,” Schwartzel said.

While Schwartzel was fairly consistent with six birdies and just two dropped shots, Coetzee had a round which he described as “all over the show” – two bogeys, an eagle, six birdies and a double-bogey were all crammed into his wild round in the Limpopo River watershed.

“I don’t know how I shot four-under because my game was all over the show. This is not the easiest course to play in the wind and the speed of the greens was very fast and the placement of the pins meant you had to really plot your way around the course, it was hard work,” Coetzee said.

A run of eagle and four successive birdies from the par-five seventh hole was key to Coetzee’s success and, being sponsored by Investec, the owners of Millvale, he admitted some local knowledge really helped.

“The eagle on seven was a bit of local knowledge because I know there is a small gap on the left and you’re able to take it on with driver. For my second I hit a seven-iron to three feet,” Coetzee said.

http://citizen.co.za/347133/schwartzel-coetzee-came-out-tops/

Coetzee ‘all over the show’ but in pole position 0

Posted on February 02, 2016 by Ken

 

George Coetzee’s game may have been “all over the show” but the Tshwane Open winner will go into the second round of the Chase to the Investec Cup final in pole position after the opening day at Millvale Private Retreat near Koster outside Rustenburg on Thursday.

Coetzee is the co-leader after the first round with South Africa’s top-ranked golfer, Charl Schwartzel, after both fired brilliant four-under-par 68s on a tough course in a gusty wind.

An incredible run of eagle at the par-five seventh, followed by four straight birdies saw Coetzee go into the lead on five-under-par, but a bogey on 12 followed by a double-bogey on the par-three 13th saw him slip behind Schwartzel, before drawing level with the 2011 Masters champion with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes.

The 28-year-old Coetzee was in 11th place in the Chase to the Investec Cup standings, but with none of the top-10 able to break par at Millvale, he is now projected to finish first and win the bonus pool if the leaderboard remains the same.

“I don’t know how I shot four-under because my game was all over the show. This is not the easiest course to play in the wind and the speed of the greens was very fast and the placement of the pins meant you had to really plot your way around the course, it was hard work,” Coetzee said.

Schwartzel is chasing a consistent swing ahead of the Masters from April 9 and his game was looking almost spot-on under the testing conditions at Millvale.

“For a while now I’ve been working out my swing and it’s getting better and better. It’s a matter of trusting it out on the course, because it doesn’t matter on the range. So today was a good round in hard conditions, it was challenging and anything under par was good,” Schwartzel said.

 

R3.5 million at stake with Fisher Jnr in prime position 0

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Ken

 

A prize of R3.5 million is at stake as the Chase to the Investec Cup Final tees off at the Millvale Private Retreat west of Rustenburg on Thursday with Trevor Fisher Junior on top of the standings with a 111.73-point lead.

But his defence of his title – as well as the first place on the standings he achieved last year – will be under attack from classy golfers like Charl Schwartzel, George Coetzee and Morten Orum Madsen, as well as in-form locals like Jacques Blaauw, Dean Burmester, Keith Horne and Wallie Coetsee.

With 1500 points on offer for the winner of the Chase to the Investec Cup Final, and 180 points guaranteed for last place, Fisher Junior can be overtaken by 21 of the 30-man field for the big prize when the tournament ends on Sunday at the Lost City.

Apart from Fisher Junior, who won the Africa Open two weeks ago and has done so well in the co-sanctioned events that he is 23rd in the Race to Dubai, the other golfer coming into the tournament with great form is Dean Burmester, who had top-20 finishes in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and the Joburg, Africa and Tshwane Opens.

Coetzee, in 11th place in the standings, 829.15 points behind Fisher Junior, put some poor form behind him as he won the Tshwane Open in fine style last weekend and the world number 67 led going into the final round of the Investec Cup final last year so he has a score to settle.

There is plenty of water around Millvale to have errant golfers in trouble, while the greens are slick and, given that Gary Player was one of the designers, canny bunkering is no surprise.

With overseas players like Andy Sullivan and Kevin Phelan, and locals like Branden Grace and Thomas Aiken turning down the chance to play for the bonus pool, Sunshine Tour regulars like Justin Harding, Louis de Jager, Jbe’ Kruger and Chris Swanepoel have earned a ticket to the lucrative summer finale in North-West.

 

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