SA's Major champions find their mojo
Major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Trevor Immelman, the only South Africans in the field, both shone at the McGladrey Classic, a PGA Tour event in Georgia, United States, at the weekend.
Oosthuizen finished alone in fourth position, two off the winning score of 15 under par, while Immelman was a further shot back and in sole possession of fifth.
American Ben Crane beat countryman Webb Simpson in a playoff to clinch the title.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, and Immelman, winner of the 2008 US Masters, both teed up at the back end of relatively poor seasons and neither was expected to contend.
Oosthuizen’s final round 66, however, threatened the leaders as he was four under after 12 holes.
Despite getting his total to 14 under with two holes left, he dropped a shot at the last to effectively end his chances of victory.
It was Oosthuizen’s best finish on tour all year.
He briefly showed signs of form at the US open in June, finishing in a tie for ninth, but had not competed at the same level since.
Fast starter Coetzee
Immelman, having battled injury since his Major victory three years ago, enjoyed a return to form and scorched around the course in his third round to sign for an eight-under 62.
He closed with a one-under 69, however, without mounting a challenge for the title.
Immelman would have take confidence from the event where he was first in putting and fifth in driving accuracy.
Meanwhile, with Oosthuizen and Immelman leading a lone fight in the United States, the leaderboard was flooded with South Africans at the Portugal Masters, a European Tour event in Vilamoura.
George Coetzee led the charge, finishing in a tie for third on a total of 270 with rounds of 70, 69, 66, and 65—three shots behind young Englishman Tom Lewis, on 21 under par, who claimed his maiden European Tour victory.
Coetzee began the final round in 18th position but raced to four under par after five holes.
The long hitting South African was unable to maintain the fast start, but without dropping a shot on the last day, he picked up three more coming home.
The Pretoria Country Club professional came into the week lying 32nd on the European Tour moneylist, and was expected to move inside the top 30 with his week’s earnings at the back end of a breakthrough season.
Breaking into the top 100
Coetzee secured his card for the current season through the gruelling qualifying school at the end 2010.
Lying 102nd in the world rankings, he also looked set to break into the top 100 after his performance in Vilamoura.
Fellow South African James Kingston was two shots behind Coetzee in a tie for 11th.
Kingston began the week with an opening round of 64, but a two-under-par fourth round saw him drop down in the placings.
Hennie Otto finished on 15 under par, tied for 16th, after following up his third-round 63 with a one-under-par 71.
Thomas Aiken, despite a two-under final round 70, for a total of 14 under for the week, also dropped down the leaderboard and had to settle for a share of 23rd.
Keith Horne endured a tough final round as well, shooting 75 and dropping from sixth place to a tie for 29th on 12 under par for the week.—Sapa.