Strong finish gives Coetzee second Tshwane Open title


Pretoria (AFP)

An impressive five-birdie final nine paved the way for South African George Coetzee to become the first two-time winner of the Tshwane Open European Tour event on Sunday.

The 31-year-old carded a four-under 67 at Pretoria Country Club, his home course, after a final round twice suspended by thunder storms as the tournament drew to a close.

His four-round total of 266 -- 18 under par -- gave him a two-shot victory in an event he also won three years ago.

After a bouncing back from two early bogeys with a pair of birdies on the front nine, Coetzee birdied five holes on the inward trek and bogeyed only one.

The Tshwane Open has been dominated by South Africans with England's Ross Fisher the only foreign winner in six tournaments.

Sam Horsfield, a 21-year-old Englishman who turned professional only last year, finished with three consecutive birdies to card a 67 and snatch second place.

Finn Mikko Korhonen, who led Coetzee by one shot halfway through the last round, closed with a 68 to come third after finishing joint-second last year.

Success on the course he first played as a 10-year-old was worth $215,000/175,000 euros to Coetzee, who has also won the Joburg Open and Mauritius Open on the European circuit.

After closing with a birdie four after a superb third shot from a greenside bunker, Coetzee was hugged by his two young daughters and his wife.

"I want to thank the crowd who backed me all day -- I could not have won this competition again without them," he said.

"A lot has happened since I last won here, including a serious ankle injury while surfing. It is good to be the Tshwane Open champion again.

"I struggled on the front nine throughout this tournament and when I turned one behind Mikko, I feared it would not be my week.

"But it all came together on the back nine with some great putting. The hold-ups due to the weather did not help and my lead slipped from four shots to two with one hole to play.

"There was some dew on the ball and that effected my decision making, but it was wonderful to finish with a birdie in front of my supporters."

The par-four 15th proved a crucial hole in the battle between Coetzee and Korhonen with the South African holing a birdie putt while an underhit edge-of-green chip cost the Finn a bogey.

Far from the glare of the leadership battle, Spaniard Pablo Oriol and South African Toto Thimba produced the two lowest rounds of the week.

Oriol fired a nine-under 62 despite a bogey as he eagled one hole and birdied eight while Thimba had eight birdies in his 63.