George Coetzee wraps up second Tshwane Open victory
Last Updated: 04/03/18 4:55pm
Local favourite George Coetzee overcame a poor start and a couple of frustrating storm delays to capture the Tshwane Open title for a second time.
The 31-year-old South African, who is a member at the Pretoria Country Club where he also won in 2015, carded a four-under 67 to prevail by two shots on 18-under 266.
English youngster Sam Horsfield (67) finished with three successive birdies to briefly threaten Coetzee and secure second place on 16 under, one shot ahead of Finland's Mikko Korhonen (68).
Coetzee started the day with a two-shot cushion but he found himself two behind Korhonen after he posted back-to-back bogeys at the third and fourth.
Korhonen, runner-up in the tournament last year and chasing his maiden European Tour win at the 140th attempt, took command thanks to birdies at the third and fifth and he added another at the seventh, although Coetzee birdied the sixth and eighth to cut the gap to one at the turn.
Coetzee continued his fine run on the back nine and stormed clear again at the top of the leaderboard with three birdies on the trot from the 11th and another on the 15th, his putter red-hot as he required just 10 putts in eight holes.
Korhonen was unable to keep pace with Coetzee and dropped away with bogeys at the 15th, shortly before the siren sounded for the first time as lightning flashed around the course, and 17th, after play had resumed following a 94-minute delay.
Coetzee managed to par the 16th after the resumption, which left him with a four-shot lead, but there was then a shorter suspension with the players remaining on the course.
There was still to be a final twist as Coetzee bogeyed the 17th following the second restart, with his playing partner Horsfield, who had produced a mixed bag earlier in his round with four birdies and three bogeys, rolling in his second successive birdie at the same hole to suddenly reduce the deficit to two.
Coetzee remained calm, though, and splashed his way out of a greenside bunker to make a comfortable birdie at the par-five 18th to claim his fourth European Tour victory - they have all been on African soil - as well as clinching the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and a place in The Open at Carnoustie.
"A lot has happened since the last time I held that trophy," said Coetzee. "I broke my ankle and I kind of needed to show myself that I could win on Tour again and it's nice to come and do it again in front of the home crowd.
"They were amazing, I don't think I could have done it without everybody out here supporting me the whole week.
"After four holes I didn't think it was going to be my day but for some reason just thought I haven't been playing the front nine very well all week so I might as well just wait to the back nine and make something happen then, and luckily for me it happened.
"The putter all of a sudden started to wake up on the eighth hole, I started making everything - me and the greens became one. That really made it easier to not worry so much about where I'm hitting it and just get it on the green. Sooner or later I'll get it in the hole."
Horsfield, 21, played a wayward second shot at the last but he recovered well to make his third straight birdie to capture second place and his highest finish so far on the European Tour after winning last year's Qualifying School.
Korhonen had to settle for third spot, one shot ahead of South African Danny van Tonder (65), Sebastien Gros of France (65) and Chile's Felipe Aguilar (67).
Scotland's Scott Jamieson (68) finished seventh on 13 under, with Spaniard Pedro Oriol producing the round of the week - a nine-under 62 - to share eighth with South Africa's Thomas Aiken (70).
Former Masters champion Danny Willett, who made the cut for the first time this year, finished in a share of 29th place on five under after closing with a 70.