South Africa’s George Coetzee fired a seven under par 65 in the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to secure his place in the world’s top 50 and with it an invite to the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
Starting the week in 49th place in the Official World Golf Ranking, the Pretorian knew he needed a solid performance at Leopard Creek to rubber-stamp his standing before the final ranking of the year on Monday December 17. Those in the top 50 at that time secure a coveted place in the field for the first Major of the 2013 calendar from April 11-14 at the renowned Georgia layout.
Coetzee, who finished tied tenth on nine under par, opened up with two birdies on Sunday before a further gain at the driveable sixth was followed by his only dropped shot of the day at the eighth.
It was on the back nine that his game sprang into life, though, as Coetzee made a quintet of birdies – including two to finish – to round of his 2012 in style.
Having played in the last two Open Championships, and the US Open and US PGA in 2012, Coetzee will complete the set this season but says his “dream”, far from complete, is only just beginning.
“My dream has never been to just play in The Masters,” said the 26 year old. “I know a couple of guys say that all they want to do in their life is play all four majors. That’s not the job description – I want to play in those majors and I want to win all of them. It’s great to have the opportunity. As they say in poker: if you have a chip and a chair, you never know.”
Coetzee, who only finished tied 39th in the launch of The 2013 Race to Dubai last week at the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship, admitted the task had been playing on his mind of late.
“It’s been tough,” he continued. “Last week I could feel that the Masters was making me play a bit rubbish because it puts a bit of pressure on you. After three days of scrapping around – playing absolutely great and just not making everything and having no patience – things got together today.”
Asked what first sprung to mind when someone said the word “Augusta”, Coetzee replied instantaneously with “a draw”, and joked he had some experience of the revered course thanks to his PlayStation.
Moreover, he grew up with Augusta; its Green Jackets, yellow flags, white cabins, velvet fairways and glass greens, and realises the accomplishment is one truly to savour.
“It’s Augusta; It’s the one major with a limited field – the best in the world,” Coetzee said. “I’ve watched it as a kid and I remember being so mad at Phil Mickelson for beating Ernie (Els) that one year (2004) when he holed that putt and jumped around like a crazy man. It’s got so much history and I’m sure it’s going to be an unbelievable experience.
“I’m going to take a nice long break there and as soon as the New Year starts I’ll be working on my short game and getting it ready.
“I don’t really have to go and work on my draw that much for Augusta, I just have to make sure I’m the best chipper and putter that there is!”