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26th June 2019 | Big Easy Tour

Coetzee throws down the gauntlet at State Mines

KwaZulu-Natal amateur Byron Coetzee laid down a marker for a first Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour win when he fired a sublime seven-under-par 65 to move within one-shot of 36-hole leader Michael-James Steyn at State Mines Country Club on Tuesday.

Steyn and Maritz Wessels went the deepest in the first round and shared the lead with a pair of 66s. The Stellenbosch golfer didn’t strike the ball as well on day two, but his patience paid off. He retained pole position with a 69, while Wessels slipped to third on seven-under with a 71.

Coetzee began the day on the more testing back nine that offered fewer opportunities to score, but a birdie start at the 10th set the tone for a productive day.

He reeled in three more birdies to offset a bogey at the par-three 13th and turned three-under. he 19-The 19-year-old Kloof golfer showed his intent with three birdies on the bounce from the second and another pair towards the end of his homeward loop.

This week marks the first time that the Hillcrest resident is competing on the Sunshine Tour’s premier development golf circuit and he was pretty pleased after playing himself into contention.

“The plan is to go to the Sunshine Tour Q-School at the end of the season and I also want to try out Asian in December,” Coetzee said. “I figured I would tee it up on the Big Easy IGT Challenge to test the water and gain experience.

“It went really well today and I think I’ll play a few more of these. If I do well enough to finish the season in the top six, I’d get automatic qualification for the Sunshine Tour. That would be huge bonus.

“I started the day really nicely with a birdie, which put me in a positive frame of mind. I birdied 12, too, but I let one slip at 13. I managed to bounce back with two good birdies at 14 and 15 and parred my way to the turn.

“I hit my drive down the left on the second and had about 60 metres to the pin. The lob-wedge bounced about five metres short of the flag and hit the pin. I thought it would drop for eagle, but it just popped back out.”

Coetzee tapped it in for birdie, backed it up with a good two-putt birdie at the par five third and boxed another to go six-under on the par four fourth.

“I was hoping to get to eight or nine under for the round, because I was so far back after a 71 in the first round,” he said. “I bogeyed the short hole, but rolled a long putt in for birdie at the sixth and made another one at seven.

“I lipped out for birdie at eight, and made a good par save on nine to finish one off the pace. My ball striking off the tee was really good today and the putter was hot…. Hopefully I make a fast start in the final round to give myself a chance.”
Steyn, meanwhile, reeled in half a dozen birdies, but he gave three shots back to the field.

“I just didn’t hit the ball as well as I did in the first round,” said the 24-year-old. “I made a great up-and-down for birdie after missing the green at 10th and that put me in a positive mind-set for the day.

“I hit two bad shots that ended in bogeys at 12 and 15, but I made amends with a crucial birdie at the 16th. I had a 20-foot putt and I knew I needed to make it to not lose any more shots to the field.”

Level through the turn, Steyn birdied the first and erased a bogey at the second with a birdie at the par five third.

“I birdied seven and nine for 69, but I took a lot of positives out of the round. I really had to grind it out and strangely, than has given me a lot of confidence. I definitely feel comfortable out there and I believe in myself more than I ever have before,” said Steyn. “Now it’s just time to get used to being up there and working with the through the pressure.”