Coetzee able to calm his nerves to win play-off

Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick.
Sheffield's Matt Fitzpatrick.
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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 AfrAsia Bank 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 No 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 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.”

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.

Sheffield’s Matthew Fitzpatrick slipped out of contention after carding 68 and 67 on the first two days, scoring 73 on Saturday. But he hit a par round of 71 yesterday to finish eight shots off the leading pair.