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Thursday, 07 March 2019
George Coetzee  (Getty Images)
George Coetzee (Getty Images)

George Coetzee was thriving again at Doha Golf Club as he posted a 68 in the opening round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

The South African was making his seventh consecutive appearance at the event having finished second in 2013 and achieved three further top tens - including last season.

There were typically windy conditions by the Qatari coast and after a birdie-bogey start, Coetzee made a hat-trick from the fifth and added a further gain after a beautiful pitch into the par five last.

All four of Coetzee's European Tour wins so far have come in Africa but he has found himself a happy hunting ground in the Middle East as he looks for win number five.

“I played pretty well," he said. "I was slow out of the blocks but hit the ball pretty good, putted pretty well.

I like this golf course, it suits my eye. I enjoy playing it and I see the shots I’m playing more than I do on a lot of other tracks - George Coetzee

"It’s tricky with the wind and the dust. It’s the golf course that makes me play with sunglasses, so I’m glad I’ve got them.

“I like this golf course, it suits my eye. I enjoy playing it and I see the shots I’m playing more than I do on a lot of other tracks.

“It felt okay the first two holes and then we got on to the third hole and it was blowing a gale in off the left. We knew it would be a longer day than we thought but I’m happy to have gotten through a lot of the tricky holes today. Everything feels pretty solid.”

South Africa has been the most successful nation in the history of this event, claiming five wins out of 21 stagings and Justin Harding was alongside countryman Coetzee at four under.

The 33-year-old finished third on the Asian Tour last season and has three top tens in 2019 as he looks for a first European Tour victory.

“I hit the ball nicely, controlled my ball flight which is key," he said.

"I didn’t really take advantage of the somewhat better conditions on the front nine. I felt like I played solid. I gave myself enough opportunities on our back nine, the front nine, to hit a couple of wedge shots in close.

"The key over the last 12-15 months has been minimising the mistakes. We’re all good enough to make a couple of birdies, it’s just keeping the bogeys off the card.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HARDING, JustinRSA18-13
T2CHOI, JinhoKOR18-11
T2COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-11
T2BEZUIDENHOUT, ChristiaanRSA18-11
T2CAMPILLO, JorgeESP18-11
T2KARLSSON, AntonSWE18-11

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