George Coetzee entered the winners’ circle on Sunday with a three-stroke victory in the Joburg Open, finally shaking off the burden of expectation after eight top three finishes.
Speaking exclusively on the Race to Dubai Podcast, available on europeantour.com and through iTunes later today, Robert Lee and Richard Boxall quizzed the 27 year old as he reflected on feeling the pressure down the stretch at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington GC after 24 top ten finishes.
“With five or six holes to go I was thinking this was quite stressful but thought to myself that sooner or later I am going to have to get over this pressure so why not just get it over with now,” admitted Coetzee, who had previously finished runner-up on three occasions and in the top three a further five times.
“That was the changing point – I thought I can’t have this pressure for the rest of my life so better do it now and then I can forget about it. It has been a little bit of a burden but the first win is the one you really worry about as you never know if it is coming or if you are good enough. Luckily now I do.”
Coetzee’s victory lifted him from 74th in the World Ranking to 59th, a rise that elevated him into the top 64 and secured his place in next week’s WGC – Accenture Match Play, although the knock on effect of this is that he has made the difficult decision to pull out of the Africa Open.
“I was very much looking forward to competing on home soil once again, so it is disappointing to miss out,” said Coetzee, who will make the near 10,000-mile journey from Johannesburg to Arizona on Saturday. “However, it is important I have enough time to prepare properly for the Match Play and give myself the best possible chance of success.”
He added: “The support I received from the home crowd as I won on the European Tour for the first time was fantastic and I’m looking forward to playing in South Africa again in the near future.”
The weekly Race to Dubai Podcast is available on iTunes and europeantour.com. This week's episode also features Justin Walters who also qualified for The Open after finishing tied second and previews the next event on the Race to Dubai, The Africa Open with the help of defending champion Darren Fichardt.