George Coetzee gave himself the perfect birthday present when he moved into contention for the Open at Royal Liverpool this morning.
The South African, who turns 28 today, shot a three-under-par 69 to move to five-under for the tournament and within one of first round leader Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman starts his second round at 2.47pm.
Coetzee had six birdies, offset by three bogeys, to back up his opening round of two-under.
“It’s nice to play well, obviously, in a very prestigious event and to have my birthday coincide with it is also nice,” he said.
Three birdies in a row from the 13th hole had Coetzee tied for the lead briefly with McIlroy and he admitted that was something he had enjoyed.
“It was quite a good feeling to look at my name and be at the top of the leaderboard,” he added. “Obviously, six-under was a hell of a score yesterday and I didn’t think it was do-able today to get to that number.
"I can’t imagine trying to win a major as your first event." - George Coetzee
“But when I made birdie on the 13th I was like, ‘I’m pretty close’. Then I birdied the next one and the next one and realised quite quickly .”
A pro for the last seven seasons, it took Coetzee until January this year to finally claim his first victory at the Joburg Open. During that spell, he played 107 events and had 24 top ten finishes. He admits that finally getting over that hurdle has done wonders for his confidence and that he’ll try to draw on that over the next two rounds.
“It was really big, “ he said. “I can’t imagine trying to win a major as your first event. It’s nice to take the pressure away from yourself, knowing that you’ve been there and done it.”
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