George Coetzee gets better of Thorbjorn Olesen to win Mauritius Open

South African claims second European Tour win of season at second play-off hole

South Africa’s George Coetzee plays a shot to the 18th hole during the final round of the  Mauritius Open at Heritage Golf Club  in Bel Ombre. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

South Africa’s George Coetzee plays a shot to the 18th hole during the final round of the Mauritius Open at Heritage Golf Club in Bel Ombre. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

George Coetzee lived up to his billing as the highest-ranked player in the field by beating Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen in a play-off to win the inaugural Mauritius Open.

South African Coetzee began the final round with a one-shot lead over compatriot Thomas Aiken and Olesen, but stormed clear with birdies at the second, third and fifth at Heritage Golf Club.

The world number 63 then drove out of bounds on the par-five seventh to drop his first shot of the day and Olesen, who had bogeyed the first, took full advantage with a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth and another on the ninth to draw level.

Olesen’s bogey on the 10th left Coetzee out in front once more and he remained there until a bogey on the 16th, just as Olesen carded a superb birdie up ahead on the 17th to take the lead.

However, Coetzee birdied the par-five 18th to force a play-off and repeated the feat twice more in sudden death to eventually get the better of Olesen, who was unable to match the second birdie after finding rough off the tee.

“I actually felt more nervous during the day [than the play-off] and I’m happy to have pulled through it,” said Coetzee, who won the Tshwane Open on his home course in Pretoria in March.

“Thorbjorn did unbelievably well to put pressure on me the whole day. I actually had to work to catch him in the end. I would have loved to have won it on the first play-off hole with an eagle and do it in style, but I’m obviously happy just to have won.

“I was a little upset and angry after my bogey on 16 and when I walked up the tee box, I saw that my name was no longer at the top and I couldn’t believe that Thorbjorn birdied 17.

“I told myself that I needed to give myself a good opportunity on 18 which I did.”

Olesen, who was playing his first tournament for three months after undergoing surgery on a hand injury, said: “It’s disappointing, of course, when you are in a play-off and you don’t win.

“It’s difficult to play that 18th with a three wood, but I’ve been hitting my driver pretty badly so I had to. George hit some great shots there in the play-off to get two birdies, as it’s not an easy hole, so big congratulations to him and he’s played really well.

“I’m pretty pleased with the way I handled things today, I had a bad start again and fought my way back. It was a lot of fighting out there and George just played a little better.

“I didn’t expect this before the tournament so to be in a play-off is unbelievable when I haven’t been in a tournament for three months. I’m very pleased with that and I can take it with me. It’s a good start.”

Singapore’s Mardan Mamat birdied two of the last three holes in a closing 67 to finish one shot outside the play-off, with Aiken another shot back in fourth.

Waterford’s Kevin Phelan closed with a two-under 69 to finish the tournament on two under.

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