George Coetzee is aiming to retain his title at the Tshwane Open this year but will face a tough challenge from a strong field in the final European Tour event in South Africa this season. By Jonathan Spencer
Lowdown: The Tshwane Open will be played at Pretoria Country Club in Waterkloof for the second year in a row. The golf course was redesigned by South African legend Gary Player in 2004. The club has staged many events on the Sunshine Tour but this tournament is the biggest event it has hosted.
The tournament is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour and it will be only the fourth running of the Tshwane Open on the European Tour. The first tournament in 2013 was won by South African Dawie Van Der Walt and in 2014, England’s Ross Fisher secured victory after almost four years without a win.
Last season, on his home course, George Coeztee picked up the title, finishing on 14-under-par and one shot ahead of fellow South African Jacques Blaauw, who managed to storm around the course in a record equalling 61 on the final day.
Coetzee will head a strong field in this week’s tournament in the fifth and final regular European Tour event held on South African soil this season.
Venue: Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa
Date: Feb 11-14
Course stats: Par 72, 7,063 yards
Defending Champion: George Coetzee (-14)
Thursday 11th – Sky Sports 4 from 8:30am
Friday 12th – Sky Sports 4 from 8:30am
Saturday 13th – Sky Sports 4 from 10:30am
Sunday 14th – Sky Sports 4 from 10:00am
George Coetzee – a memorable final round of 65 last year on his home course will have inspired the South African on to retain his title on the course he grew up to adore. Coetzee performs well in his home country and his victory in this tournament last year, was his second European Tour win on home soil.
Jacques Blaauw – In his first two events of this year, he has been steadily improving. A finish of tied 38th at the BMW SA Open and a tied seventh finish at the Joburg Open has put the South African in a good position to challenge for the title he narrowly missed out on last year.
Daniel Im – Two top ten finishes in his first three events of the year suggests he is in for a chance to challenge at the top at Pretoria Country Club. The American ended tied third at the Joburg Open and tied eighth at the BMW SA Open.
Key Hole: 18th. Players will have to hold their nerve coming down this hole on the final day. For club members, this hole is played as a par 5 but for the tournament, this will be played as a par 4. The hole stretching over 500 yards will require two solid shots to reach the green in regulation. Pot bunkers also play a big role, as they are a threat on both the drive and approach shot.