Home favourite George Coetzee used his local knowledge of the Pretoria Country Club on a storm-hit Sunday this week to pull off a stunning back-nine birdie burst that saw him become the first man to capture the European Tour's Tshwane Open twice.
The 31-year-old South African closed with a 4-under 67 and an 18-under 266 total to beat England's Sam Horsfield by two shots and Finland's Mikko Korhonen by three.
South African Daniel van Tonder and Frenchman Sebastien Gros, who both fired sparkling 65s, and Chile's Felipe Aguilar (67) all tied for 4th, a shot further back.
Coetzee, who has now won four European Tour titles, all of them on home soil, said he was delighted to have got back on the winning track after breaking an ankle.
"A lot has happened since the last time I held that trophy," he told the media afterwards.
"After my ankle injury, I kind of needed to show myself that I could win on Tour again and it's so nice to come out 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 there supporting me all week.
All's well that endeth well, they say, but things were not looking so bright at the start of the final round when the stocky Coetzee bogeyed holes 3 and 4 after two unexceptional pars to find his 3rd-round, two-shot lead, had disappeared and he now trailed Korhonen by two.
“Yea, a couple of drops so early. I thought this is not the way I wanted to start my round,” he said, “but, I started building momentum after that, stayed patient and waited my turn (for his first birdie of the day). It came on six and then everything kind of started coming together.”
"From the eighth hole, I started making everything. I and the greens became one. That really made it easier for me to not worry too much about where I was hitting it."
It certainly did. From the eighth hole, he needed only 10 Masterclass putts over the next eight holes to pick up five birdies and race away into a three-stroke lead that would stun Korhonen and his other pursuers and carry Coetzee to victory.
Mind you, it wasn't as straightforward, perhaps, as I make it sound.
At 3.37 pm, shortly after he went three shots clear, the play was suspended due to some approaching thunder and lightning.
The final four groups affected by the stoppage returned to the course an hour and 34 minutes later only to leave it again for another 17-minute delay a little after that, but through it all Coetzee kept his cool and, despite a disappointing final hole where he saw his lead reduced to two shots, there was a confident air about him as he strode home to his 9th win on the Sunshine Tour which co-sanctioned the Tshwane Open with the European Tour.
266 George Coetzee (RSA) 67 64 68 67
268 Sam Horsfield (ENG) 68 69 64 67
269 Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 68 64 69 68
270 Daniel van Tonder (RSA) 67 72 66 65, Sebastien Gros (FRA) 69 70 66 65, Felipe Aguilar (CHI) 65 67 71 67
271 Scott Jamieson (SCO) 67 69 67 68
273 Pedro Oriol 71 69 71 62 (ESP), Thomas Aiken (RSA) 65 71 67 70
274 Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 68 68 67 71
275 Connor Syme (SCO) 70 68 68 69, Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 67 72 66 70
276 Scott Vincent (ZIM) 68 69 69 70, JC Ritchie (RSA) 68 67 74 67, Victor Perez (FRA) 69 68 68 71, Jacques Blaauw (RSA) 71 69 69 67, Ockie Strydom (RSA) 73 65 70 69
277 Peter Karmis (RSA) 69 70 72 66, JJ Senekal (RSA) 67 72 69 69, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) 67 69 72 69.
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