Will big Coetzee conquer in Mauritius again?
George Coetzee says he is determined to prove to his critics that he is the legitimate AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open champion by making a successful title defence.
The tournament tees off at Four Seasons Golf Course at Anahita, Beau Champ, on Thursday.
The big-hitting Pretoria player won the inaugural event at the Heritage Golf Club last year by beating Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen on the second play-off hole to lift the championship trophy sanctioned by three major tours – Sunshine, European and Asian.
He scored three birdies at the par-five 18th hole – one at the end of the final round and two in the play-off – to become victorious and register a third European Tour title. Coetzee carded an overall score of -13 for 271. His other triumphs came at the Joburg Open in 2014 at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club with -19 and the Tshwane Open, where he recorded -14 at his home Pretoria Golf Club course last year.
Now the bulky 29-year-old golfer said he would make his detractors, who thought his previous win came by sheer luck, swallows their words.
“Many people believe I won last year by luck and therefore I won’t be able to win for the second year running,” said Coetzee.
“Watch me when I hit my first tee shot. I’m in great form and don’t see any reason I cannot make a successful title defence. I won’t disappoint my fans.”
Coetzee, who has won nine tournaments as a professional golfer, believed that the Four Seasons would be a tough course with narrow fairways, as compared with his previous slaughterhouse. “I’ve studied the course yardage book and realise that the pin positions there at the venue have been made difficult to reach. I have been working on my putting, iron play and bunker shots. I’m ready for another victory,” said Coetzee. He was aware that there would be a competitive field with golfers who would be out to make a mark on the greens, but he would be too good. Last year, Coetzee started day one ahead of compatriot Thomas Aiken and Olesen, but pulled clear with a sensational start as he birdied the second and third from close range after some wonderful shots. Competition will be stiff with players such as Adilson da Siva of Brazil and Frenchman Grégory Bourdy. There is also the likelihood of a strong challenge coming from South African players who have entered the tournament (see box).