ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – Golf is a capricious mistress and George Coetzee has been in the game for long enough to know the swing he has one day might not be around the next, but the two-time Sunshine Tour order of merit champion had the experience, composure and skill to get the job done on Sunday as he clinched his second PGA Championship title at the St Francis Links.
Coetzee had just a one-stroke lead going into the final round, but a polished four-under-par 68 on Sunday, which included two eagles and almost a third, carried him to 15-under-par and a three-stroke victory in the prestigious R1.2 million tournament.
“I was pretty much under pressure all day, I didn’t really feel comfortable and my swing wasn’t 100%,” Coetzee said after claiming his 14th Sunshine Tour title.
“But golf is one of those games, it’s not like cycling where the more you cycle the better you get. You can have one swing on one day and then the next day another swing.
“So I was putting pressure on myself, but I stuck to the game-plan, made good choices and hit good shots, and luckily it was enough in the end,” Coetzee said.
Some of those shots were better than good as an eagle on the par-five third hole brought some early pleasure, and he holed out with a sand-wedge for an eagle-two on the par-four 10th hole. In between those highlights, he could also have eagled the 350-yard par-four fifth hole after driving the green, but his putt was narrowly wide.
“We were put on the clock on the fifth and I didn’t have time to read my putt properly,” Coetzee laughed.
Unusually, Coetzee made bogey on the following hole on both occasions he registered an eagle.
“I was really happy with my two eagles after I saw a lot of chances in the third round. But then it was a bit hard to calm down and get back into my rhythm, get my head back into a good space,” Coetzee admitted.
But back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes put him firmly in control of the tournament and he parred his way in from the 14th for a comfortable victory in the end.
Rookie Casey Jarvis produced his best Sunshine Tour result as he finished second after a final-round 69, and the experienced duo of Hennie Otto and Jake Redman were tied in third place, one stroke behind on 11-under-par, both shooting two-under-par 70s on Sunday.
Coetzee will now head to Sun City and this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is like the AGM of South African professional golf, assured that he has the game in place to contend for that massive title.
“The confidence I take from beating the field here is a big boost and I’m generally pretty happy with the swing that has shown up for the last couple of weeks,” Coetzee said.
Stephen Ferreira’s championship also ended on a winning note as he aced the par-three 17th hole to win himself a new Volkswagen T-Roc courtesy of Dirk Ellis VW.