Coetzee pips local rivals in Joburg

European Tour

South African George Coetzee stole the show at the Joburg Open on Sunday, closing with a superb 66 to claim the title by three shots.

Coetzee’s countrymen Justin Walters and Thomas Aiken held a two-shot lead overnight, but disappointing rounds of 73 and 74 respectively put pay to their chances.

It’s Coetzee’s maiden European Tour title and the victory also earned him a spot at this year’s Open Championship, where he will be joined by Walters and South Korea’s Jin Jeong, who both finished joint second alongside Tyrell Hatton.

Englishman Hatton, who also closed with a superb 66 to rocket up the leaderboard, missed out on an Open spot due to his world ranking of 276 being below Jeong and Walters.

Starting the day trailing by four shots, Coetzee was able to draw level with birdies at the first, fourth, sixth and eighth holes.

Two more birdies at 10 and 15 would prove good enough for victory.

“I don’t know what I’m feeling,” Coetzee told europeantour.com.

“I’m lost for words. I’ve been waiting a while and I started doubting, so I’m very happy.

“I got to share this with my family and my friends. It was my mum’s birthday on Saturday and I wanted to do it for her as I forgot to buy her a present.”

It was a disappointing day for the overnight leaders, however.

Aiken was inconsistent throughout his round, making four birdies but also six bogeys, while Walters never really got going, dropping three shots and making just a solitary birdie all day.

Aiken eventually had to settle for tied fifth alongside Matthew Baldwin, Andy Sullivan and Alvaro Quiros.

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