15th January 2020 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Calm Coetzee clinches Race to Q-School #1

Calm Coetzee clinches Race to Q-School #1

(PHOTO – Byron Coetzee; credit CJ du Plooy)

CENTURION, 15 January 2020 – KwaZulu-Natal rookie Byron Coetzee employed a carefree attitude on his way to a final round five-under 64 to win the Race to Q-School #1 at Centurion Country Club by a shot on Wednesday.

Despite a poor warm-up session just before his round, the 20-year-old was able to refocus, which paid dividends as he finished the IGT Challenge Tour Q-School prep series on 12-under for the three rounds – a stroke ahead of Southern Cape’s Jack Duthie, who closed with a 68 for second place on his own.

Neal Woernhard from Switzerland and Kempton Park’s Jason Froneman both finished on 10-under in a share of third.

Froneman held the 36-hole lead on 12-under with Duthie two shots back and Coetzee in a tie for seventh on seven-under at the start of the day. “I was hitting it pretty terribly in the practice session, but when I got to the first tee, a cloud of calm came over me. I decided to forget about where I was lying. So I just went out there and tried to enjoy myself,” said Coetzee.

The Kloof Country Club golfer was out of the blocks quickly with five birdies and a bogey on his outward loop.

“I started with a birdie on the first, and then I made another at the third – so I just decided to go for it. On the sixth I hit driver down the middle and hit it close from 63 metres, so I was really happy to be three-under through six.

“The seventh hole was changed from a par five to a par three due to the recent flooding in the area.I came up short with the tee shot and made my only bogey of the tournament. But then I thought it was good to get it out the way. So as soon as I made that drop, I came back with two birdies.”

Though he only made one more gain on the back nine, he was bogey-free, which was enough to claim the victory.

“On the 12th I hit the green in two and left my eagle putt hanging on the lip, but it didn’t drop, so I tapped in for birdie,” Coetzee said.

It was a second victory as a professional for Coetzee, after he first tasted success at the Big Easy IGT in Krugersdorp in October last year.

“It definitely means a lot to win, but I have a lot to work on still. I want to play at least another two tournament before Q-school to keep myself tournament-ready,” he said.

“I didn’t expect to win. The first two rounds I was bogey-free, but I felt like I could be a lot better. It didn’t feel like I had my A-game.”

While most players take considerable time before deciding to turn professional these days, it was through a national team non-selection that forced Coetzee into moving into the paid ranks.

“I had a good end to the 2018 season with a win and a couple top-10s, which helped me rise up the GolfRSA Open Amateur rankings,” Coetzee explained. “I was trying to get my South African colours as an amateur, but unfortunately I didn’t get chosen, so I decided to turn pro halfway through the Big Easy season.”

The Sunshine Tour Q-School now lies in wait for the young pro, who will tee it up with countless other hopefuls at Houghton Golf Club starting on February 2.

It would be a dream come true for Coetzee if he were to earn one of the most coveted playing-cards in all the fairways of this land. “It would be amazing to get my Sunshine Tour card. It’s all I’ve ever dreamt of.”

In fact, Coetzee draws inspiration from one of his idols, Sunshine Tour campaigner Martin Rohwer, who finished in a tie for sixth at the SA Open last week. If he keeps up his stellar play, Coetzee might well be joining Rohwer in a matter of months.

Final Result

All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA

195 – Byron Coetzee 65 66 64

196 – Jack Duthie 64 64 68

197 – Neal Woernhard (SUI) 64 65 68, Jason Froneman 62 64 71

198 – Zabastian de Jager 68 62 68, Marthin Scheepers 67 62 69

199 – Luan Boshoff 69 63 67

200 – Michael-James Steyn 66 69 65, Jeremy Sharpe 65 67 68

201 – Leon Visser 68 68 65, Divan Marais 66 70 65, Francois van der Walt AMA 68 66 67, Armand van Dyk AMA 69 62 70

202 – Albert Visser 66 68 68, Jaco van der Merwe 67 67 68

203 – Luke Trocado 64 72 67, Richard Joubert 68 62 73

204 – Liam Labuschagne 67 69 68, Ruan Groenewald 67 69 68, Keaton Slatter 68 68 68, Richard Kruger 65 73 66

205 – Cameron Borcher AMA 69 68 68

206 – Albert Venter 66 70 70

207 – Christian Basson 67 69 71, Michael Kok 67 70 70, Mitchell Lightfoot 71 67 69, Carel Tromp AMA 71 68 68, Harry Konig (ENG) 62 71 74, John McClean (NIR) 71 69 67

208 – Francois Blaauw AMA 71 66 71, Paulo Serrao (POR) 69 68 71, Conner Mackenzie AMA 73 65 70, Ricardo van der Westhuizen AMA 69 69 70, Martin Mare AMA 70 71 67

209 – Eric Nel 68 68 73, Llewellyn Booysen 69 67 73, Sinan Baburoglu AMA 69 68 72

210 – Dylan O’Leary 69 67 74, Angus Ellis-Cole 71 67 72

211 – Divan de Villiers 70 71 70

212 – Simon du Plooy AMA 69 71 72, Bryce Myburgh 68 72 72, Neil Cheetham (ENG) 67 74 71, Tumelo Molloyi 70 71 71

213 – Michael Pfeifer 65 70 78, Teagan Moore 69 64 80, Nico du Buisson 68 72 73

214 – Stephan Erasmus 67 68 79, Elmo Barnard AMA 69 71 74

215 – Wynand Potgieter 68 72 75

216 – Stals Swart AMA 68 73 75

221 – Phumlani Maluka 70 71 80

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour.

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