Coetzee widens Tshwane Open lead to two on home course


Pretoria (AFP)

South African George Coetzee, playing on his home course, increased his lead to two shots Saturday after three rounds of the European Tour Tshwane Open.

He fired a three-under-par 68 at Pretoria Country Club for a tournament total of 199, 14 under par over the 6,476-metre/7,081-yard layout, after being one stroke ahead overnight.

Coetzee, whose three European Tour victories include the 2015 Tshwane Open, is followed on the leaderboard by Sam Horsfield of England and Mikko Korhonen of Finland.

Horsfield carded a 64 -- the best round of the day -- while Korhonen shot a 69 in hot, clear conditions.

South Africans Thomas Aiken (67) and Eric van Rooyen (67), Scott Jamieson (67) of Scotland and Chilean Felipe Aguilar (71) are on 203, four strokes behind the leader.

Coetzee is hoping to become the first two-time winner of the Tshwane Open and the sixth South African victor in the seven-year-old competition.

His score would have been even lower but for a bogey six on the final hole of a course he first played as a 10 year old.

Coetzee, who has also won the Joburg Open and Mauritius Open on the European Tour, picked up five birdies and bogeyed two holes.

"I am looking forward to the final round, but I am not thinking anything beyond that at the moment," said the leader.

"It is great to have the local support here and, hopefully, I can give them something to cheer about on Sunday afternoon.

"I'm happy with how I played. The front nine was not that great, but I managed to play really nice golf from 10 onwards."

Horsfield, who turned professional last year and is ranked 754 in the world, closed the gap behind Coetzee from six shots overnight to two.

He birdied the first four holes, added a fifth on the front nine and secured two more at 11 and 12 to match the lowest score of the week.

Korhonen, a Tshwane Open runner-up last year, bogeyed two holes before a change of fortune from 12 delivered four birdies.

Danny Willett of England and Julian Suri of the United States, two high-profile competitors in the field, are well back.

Willett, the 2016 US Masters champion, shot a 71 and is 10 strokes behind Coetzee with 18 holes remaining.

Suri, ranked 70 in the world and the lone top-100 golfer at the Tshwane Open, returned a 72 for a 211 total.