Coetzee vaults into contention at PGA

FILE PICTURE: George Coetzee.

FILE PICTURE: George Coetzee.

South African George Coetzee reeled off seven birdies and an eagle on his way to a seven-under par 65 to vault into contention during the weather-interrupted second round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, in Wisconsin, on Friday.

Following a first round two over 74, Coetzee made the most of better scoring conditions on day two to threaten the lowest score ever recorded in a Major – 63. But a bogey on his final consigned the Pretoria Country Club golfer to a 65. Still, his near-flawless round meant Coetzee’s name rocketed up the leaderboard more than 55 spots into a share of 12th, four strokes behind Aussie leaders Jason Day and Matt Jones when play was called off prematurely for the thunder storms heading into the area.

Coetzee’s round was highlighted by an eagle at the par five 16th.

“The eagle was pretty nice. I had 2-iron in from 260 (yards) and I just kind of visualised it and it happened exactly the way I kind of had it pictured in my mind,” said Coetzee.

“And those kind of shots don’t happen like that, that often.”

The 29-year-old said the difference between his two rounds could be down to his ball-striking, but suggested his luck had changed.

“I think after birdieing the first couple of holes, I felt like I was playing well. But yesterday, I birdied the first three holes and shot 74, so it’s not really something you can count on.

“But when I chipped in for par on the fourth hole, I definitely felt like, okay, maybe things are different from yesterday. Maybe I’ve got a bit more confidence. I was hitting it much better than yesterday.”

The two-time European Tour winner this season said holing the important putts were critical to keeping himself in contention.

“Today the putts just went in. I feel like I figured something out with the putting stroke and the putting feels much better than it did the last couple of weeks. That I guess makes a big difference in ball striking and every aspect of your game. If you know you’re going to make the putts, then you can play a bit more conservative when you have to and you don’t take the silly chances.”

Though Coetzee led the way, there were four of his countrymen on two under. Charl Schwartzel also managed to complete his round as he signed for a 69 following his first round 73 to get to two under at the halfway point, in a tie for 28th.

Louis Oosthuizen was also on two under, but still had one hole left to play when the bad weather moved over the course. Ernie Els had three holes left to play, while Branden Grace had five holes remaining.

The rest of the South Africans, Rory Sabbatini (+3), Tim Clark (+4) and Johan Kok (+10) finished their rounds but missed the cut.




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