Nick Gordon
2 minute read
6 Feb 2014
5:58 am

Rested SA pair in buoyant mood ahead of Joburg Open

Nick Gordon

Rested and raring to go. That's the impression given by George Coetzee and Charl Schwartzel as they gear up for the first round of the Joburg Open today.

FILE PICTURE: George Coetzee. Picture: Luke Walker/Gallo Images.

Both the East and West courses at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington will be used as a field of 210 players attempt to wrest the title away from defending champion Richard Sterne in this co-sanctioned event.

Coetzee took a week off after two top-10 finishes in his two starts during the European Tour’s desert swing, skipping last week’s Dubai Desert Classic, and the 27-year-old is keen to follow up on his good form as he goes in search of a first victory on the European Tour.

“I had two rough weeks mentally, because I hadn’t been in contention a lot over the previous six months,” Coetzee said of his break.

“The swing is starting to come together and if I can make some putts like I have done in the last few weeks then I’ll be looking forward to Sunday,” Coetzee, who finished tied for third last year, said.

“I feel like I’ve played well enough to win a couple of times, but the other guys just did a little bit more. It’s just a question of when it’s my week. It’s a matter of time,” he said about the elusive title.

South African golfers have had a stranglehold on this tournament since it started in 2007 with Sterne winning here last year to go with his 2008 crown, Branden Grace claimed top honours in 2012 and Schwartzel secured back-to-back wins here in 2010 and 2011.

“I don’t think anything really changes for me around here. I’ve had some nice time off and got some good practice here in the last week.

“It’s always good to start off with this tournament at a course that I like, and it’s no different this year,” Schwartzel, who hasn’t featured in a tournament since the Volvo Golf Champions last month, said ahead of his bid to become the first three-time winner of this event.

“There are a few guys out here that can play it well. There are a few guys here this week that have been around on the leaderboard in this tournament and that look like they’ve got off to a good start this year, so I don’t think it’s a two-horse race,” he added of the threats in the field this week.