One bad hole in the second round of the Turkish Airlines Open had George Coetzee chasing playing partner Thorbjorn Oleson around the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, but the three-time European Tour champion was still upbeat on Friday.
Oleson began the day one shot behind Coetzee at seven under, but he blasted past the South African with a magnificent nine-under-par 62 that included eight birdies and an eagle three at the 15th.
The Dane moved to 15 under and leads by six from Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Adrian Otaegui from Spain, Haotong Li from China, Italy’s Matteo Manassero and Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren, who fired a flawless 64.
Coetzee, who signed for 73, said the fact that he finished at five under was comforting. ‘I’m far from upset, because I’m still hitting the ball better than I have in months,’ he said. ‘Yesterday I was the guy peppering the flags, today Thorbjorn was hot and it was incredible to watch.
‘I had one bad hole, but I fought back from two under. I had to make a quick mind-set change out there from being in contention to chasing the leader, but I did it and came back with three birdies. It was good playing with Thorbjorn, because he pulled me along.’
Coetzee interrupted a run of nine pars on the front nine with a soft bogey at the third, but he was still within three shots of Oleson, who birdied one, six, eight and nine.
However, any hopes of catching the Dane died a watery death after two visits to the lake at 10. ‘I hit it in the water and rushed the drop and back in the water it went,’ Coetzee said. ‘As simple as that. When you hit the water, you need to take time to re-focus and I didn’t. It was a rookie mistake and I said as much to Alan (Burns – caddie).
‘That’s when I had to switch modes and play to get myself back in the tournament. I’m a long way off the lead, but a lot of guys are burning up the course. I’m still in the top 15, so I need to make the most of the next two days.’
Compatriot Justin Walters carded a 70 to finish at four under and was happy to be flying under the radar.
‘Look, I wasn’t even supposed to be playing this week, so it’s a bonus for me just to be out here,’ he said. ‘A couple of loose shots coming home cost me; I definitely gave it away with the bogeys at 15 and 18, but I still managed to improve, if only by one shot. At least I’m moving in the right direction.
‘It’s still a huge job to make up the 20 or so spots to make it into the field for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, but if I can limit the mistakes over the weekend, it’s a possibility. It’s in the back of mind, but I don’t want to make it all about Sun City.’
Richard Sterne carded a 71 and reigning SA Open champion Brandon Stone signed for a well-constructed 68 to join the bus at one under. Darren Fichardt sits at one over after a 73, Thomas Aiken registered a 75 to tie for 70th at four over and a 76 from Haydn Porteous saw the Joburg Open winner join last year’s runner-up Jaco van Zyl, who returned a 72 to finish at six over.
Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.