Coetzee sparkles at Diamond Country Club

9/16/2010 1:14:03 PM
George Coetzee  (Getty Images)
George Coetzee (Getty Images)
George Coetzee boosted his chances of keeping his European Tour card with an opening round of 65 at the Austrian GolfOpen presented by Botarin.

The South African, 142nd on The Race to Dubai and needing to move into the top 115 to retain playing privileges, carded eight birdies in his seven under par effort, and afterwards admitted he will be giving everything to remain a European Tour Member.

"At this stage of the season I'm doing everything I can to make sure I'm still on Tour in 2011," said Coetzee.

"It's my first time playing in Austria but second time overall. I went skiing in January after my father told me to try it and it was incredible. I loved the place.

"I was very happy to come back here and play this tournament but to be honest I have to play every tournament I can right now to try and keep my card."

The 24 year old got off to a flyer with four consecutive birdies from the tenth, before adding another at the 16th.

His first bogey came at the 18th, but he then picked up shots at the 367 yard fourth and par five sixth and the Qualifying School graduate completed his scoring at the seventh when his eagle putt brushed the lip, but by tapping in for birdie he ensured a three shot clubhouse lead.

"When the putter works it's easy to shoot scores like that," he said.

"I wouldn't say it was spectacular, I just putted very well and that gives me confidence."

Tied second in the clubhouse are Spain's Javi Colomo and former Ryder Cup Swede Jarmo Sandelin on four under.

Sandelin, who lost 4 and 3 to Phil Mickelson in his only appearance in 1999, is also fighting for his European Tour future.

Having joined The European Tour in 1995, the 43 year old kept his card by a mere €77 in 2007 and had to make the trip to Qualifying School last November to retain it for 2010.

At 171st on The Race to Dubai Sandelin could use the €125,000 winner's cheque, and he was delighted to be in contention despite a bogey-bogey finish.

"It's been too long since I have been on the leaderboard," he said. "But I've always said if you work hard and wait for the moment to come and enjoy things, the wind will eventually change. And it has done today."

Challenge Tour regular Colomo carded all his birdies on the outward nine in a bogey-free round.

"I played really very well and made four birdies in the first nine holes," said the 26 year old.

"I'm feeling very confident. The second nine the wind was very strong but I kept my concentration and missed two birdie chances in the last couple of holes but I'm very happy overall."