South African George Coetzee is blooming again at Doha Golf Club as he fired his second straight four-under round of 68 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters yesterday.
Coetzee rode his momentum into a relatively calmer day two, firing three birdies on the front nine, and another one on the par five 10th, before keeping the slate clean on the rest of the holes.
“I’m happy to be playing some better golf, making some putts and hitting some good shots,” said Coetzee, who has scored four top-ten finishes in the Qatar Masters.
The South African was making his seventh consecutive appearance at the event having finished second in 2013.
The 32-year-old golfer has missed his last two cuts on the European Tour.
“I’m in a better place mentally. I played well in parts in the WGC-Mexico Championship and hit some good shots in Oman last week – mixed in with a couple of blunders – but I feel like things are falling into place this week.”
All four of Coetzee’s European Tour wins so far have come in Africa but he has found himself a happy hunting ground in the Middle East as he looks for win number five.
Coetzee reached a career-high 41st in the world after finishing second in Qatar in 2013, but started this week ranked 243rd after just one top-20 finish in his last 25 events.
“I feel like everything is slowly getting into place. I don’t know when it’s going to be there for four rounds but hopefully I’ll be awake and ready to reap the rewards,” he said.
South Africa has been the most successful nation in the history of this event, claiming five wins out of 21 stagings and Justin Harding was alongside countryman Coetzee and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera at eight-under after round two.
The 33-year-old Harding sound satisfied with his performance.
“I’m very happy,” said Harding. “It was a tough day starting out but the wind settled down a bit later on. I hit some good shots and could have holed a couple more putts but I’m happy to put myself in this position after two days and we’ll see what happens.”
Earlier, Lorenzo-Vera took advantage of moderate morning conditions to set the clubhouse target with a second successive 68, mixing five birdies with a sole blemish.
“Today, I had a lack of energy in the middle of the round. I had a three-putt from eight metres for an eagle on the 18th, and then made a bogey on the first after a poor tee shot and an even worse lay-up,” said Lorenzo-Vera, who is looking for his first European Tour win following some near-misses in recent years.
He suffered a mid-round stutter before bouncing back with birdies on both the par-3s on the front nine but handled it well to make a comeback.
“I’m happy with how I handled it and played my way back into the round.”
“It was nice at the beginning. We were downwind on the 10th, so had a short second shot into the green which were really good – very grainy, but still very fair. It was just a bit harder in the middle of the round. It was a really early wake-up call and I lost a bit of focus, but that was the only difference compared to yesterday,” the Frenchman said.
Another South African, 2003 champion Darren Fichardt, also had his share of limelight yesterday as he carded an impressive eight-under, the lowest score of the day.
England’s Oliver Wilson, who has lost his European Tour card twice before, was hoping to take full advantage of his opportunity with a 68 yesterday following a 69 on Thursday to sit alongside three other players on 7-under-par.
“I’m very pleased and to be bogey-free for two days is something I’m delighted with,” said Wilson, who won twice on the Challenge Tour last year. “I have experience around this course, which helps, and I’ve been playing solid, hitting a lot of fairways and finding the middle of the greens.
“Last week, I got one step closer to getting into the field for the Qatar Masters each day. I’d already booked my flights to Doha so I was prepared and to get the nod after my final round was great. It’s hard not to put pressure on yourself. It’s a different position when you can plan a schedule and you know you have 25 or 30 events, you can be a bit more patient – but I don’t have that, I don’t know how many events I’m going to get in.
“I’m just trying to improve. I’m really pleased with what I’ve done in the last year, I’m moving in the right direction and getting more confidence in my game. There’s still a long way to go but, hopefully, the results will come and at the end of the year I can look back, be pleased, and have a schedule for next year.”
Wilson is joined by South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and Spaniard Adri Arnaus one stroke adrift the leaders while a group of eight players are on 6-under-par including Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Australia’s Deyen Lawson, who made his second hole-in-one of the season at the 17th. The first one came at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December.
LEADING SECOND ROUND SCORES
136: George Coetzee (South Africa) 68-68, Justin Harding (South Africa) 68-68, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (France) 68-68
137: Adri Arnaus (Spain) 67-70, Masahiro Kawamura (Japan) 69-68, Erik Van Rooyen (South Africa) 69-68, Oliver Wilson (England) 69-68
138: Kristoffer Broberg (Sweden) 71-67, Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium) 68-70, Thomas Detry (Belgium) 70-68, Nacho Elvira (Spain) 71-67, Anton Karlsson (Sweden) 72-66, Jacques Kruyswijk (South Africa) 71-67, Deyen Lawson (Australia) 70-68, Richie Ramsay (Scotland) 68-70
139: Alejandro Canizares (Spain) 71-68, Nick Cullen (Australia) 69-70, Bradley Dredge (Wales) 68-71, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 69-70, Jordan Smith (England) 71-68, Paul Waring (England) 69-70
140: Thomas Aiken (South Africa) 71-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (India) 69-71, Ashley Chesters (England) 70-70, Jens Dantorp (Sweden) 72-68, Darren Fichardt (South Africa) 76-64, Oliver Fisher (England) 73-67, Gavin Green (Malaysia) 71-69, Maximilian Kieffer (Germany) 69-71, Hugo Leon (Chile) 68-72, Yusaku Miyazato (Japan) 69-71, Sebastian Soderberg (Sweden) 72-68, Justin Walters (South Africa) 67-73, Jeff Winther (Denmark) 70-70, Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay) 72-68
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