TSHWANE OPEN : MORE THAN A WINNER, MORE THAN JUST GOLF
The 2015 Tshwane Open lived up to its "more than just golf" slogan after a fairy-tale finish saw Tshwane native George Coetzee become the first golfer in seven years to win a European Tour trophy at his home club.
It was nail-biting stuff for home fans at a pulsating Pretoria Country Club on Sunday, 15 March as Coetzee kept his cool to hold off a charging Jacques Blaauw, birdie-ing the 17th on his way to a one-stroke victory in the €1.5-million European Tour co-sanctioned event.
It was Coetzee's second European Tour victory following the 2014 Joburg Open, and he was followed every step of the way by a band of supportive local fans, the crowd eventually erupting when he sank the final put for a final-round five-under par 65 and a 14-under total of 266.
This was coming full circle for Coetzee - it was on this course that he won his first golf tournament as a 10-year-old.
"This victory is even more special than winning the Joburg Open, because my family and friends are here," he said afterwards.
"I've won so many times on this course, and now I've won in the biggest tournament that will ever be played here, so I'm really pleased about that. To win in front of my friends and family at my home club is particularly sweet."
His victory earned him a cool €237 751 (approximately R3.1-million) and the same number of Race to Dubai points, and boosted his place in the official world rankings from 87th to 67th.
"The crowds were amazing," he said. "I could just feel the momentum building, and the crowd felt like it was getting bigger and bigger the closer we got to the end."
Among his supporters were Tshwane local Karl van Wyk, who described the victory as his highlight of the tournament.
"Coetzee was flawless the final round. He definitely made it a fairy-tale win for Tshwane," Van Wyk said, adding: "This tournament has definitely been more than just golf. The event has been an out-of-this-world experience, and I'm happy my family and I were here to be part of it."