South African spirits high as Coetzee soars with Grace

10/7/2012 7:10:13 PM
George Coetzee  (Getty Images)
George Coetzee (Getty Images)

While it was another South African in the prodigious Branden Grace who will be capturing the headlines after his fourth European Tour victory of the season at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, his fellow Pretorian George Coetzee also had a day to remember after shooting a ten under par 62 to tie for the St Andrews Old Course record.

The 26 year old, having only just made the cut with a 15 foot birdie putt on his last hole at Kingsbarns on Saturday, fired ten birdies in a flawless final round – including a stretch of eight in nine holes – to surge 58 places up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth at the Home of Golf.

It would have been a course record in its own right were it not for the first day heroics of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, who deposed Luke Donald, Simon Dyson and Rory McIlroy as the former incumbents of the record with a 62 of his own on Thursday.

“Every kid dreams about it, it's the home of golf,” said an elated Coetzee. “Every time I step up, it's just an unbelievable feeling.  I'll play the course any way they let me, and obviously 62, I'm very happy, especially to move up into the top ten only just making the cut yesterday.

“I had five birdies on the trot and I missed one – I think I lipped out one on 16 – and if that one had gone in it would have been nine on the trot. 

“But it's one of those days, you can always count the shots that you've left out there but all in all, I'm very happy with a 62.”

As Coetzee attests, his highly impressive round could potentially have been even better but after shooting front and back nine 31s he revealed the inspiration behind his fine finish.

Coetzee said: “I missed a two footer on the par five which motivated me a bit to finish well in the last couple of holes, but also I was remembering that I had told Branden Grace before the round, ‘I'm going to shoot 50, so you'd better keep up!’ 

“I thought: ‘If I make two on the last, I'll shoot 61 and won't be the first time I've guessed my score wrong by 11 shots!’”

Coetzee and the 2012 Dunhill Links Champion are not only compatriots but firm friends, and the older of the two South Africans took time to pay a special tribute to Grace – and the motivation that his rise and rise has provided.

“I don't know what's going on in that kid's head,” Coetzee reflected. “ I’d definitely like to just go under the scalp of him and go look and find out what's going on in his head because he's certainly figured out this game and it's showing; he's been playing unbelievable.

“And obviously it's great inspiration to see that someone who I've played with and beaten a lot over the years is doing that well.  It just goes to show and proves my point that I should be doing a little better but moreover it's always nice to see your mate doing well.”