As the pressure mounted ahead of a cut to 65 and ties, Francois Coetzee remained untouchable when he carded 68 at Bloemfontein Golf Club to remain a stroke ahead at Sunshine Tour Qualifying School on Friday.
A mere 30 of the 252 entries will receive 2012 Tour cards, but finishing in first place became Coetzee’s focus after he closed the fourth round at 13-under-par, one shot clear of Wesley Worster.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m worried about winning or not, but I’m definitely going to try to take this,” said Coetzee.
The 22-year-old had a rough time when he teed it up at the 10th and carded bogeys through his first three holes. “I started really poorly and I knew I had to make some birdies, so I just went back to the basics and managed to shoot a great back nine,” he said.
He proved to be a cool customer and ignored a final bogey at 16 whilst making birdies at 14, 15 and 18 before making the turn at one-over for the day.
From there he didn’t look back and raced through his second nine in 31 strokes, powered by birdies at the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 8th. “I’ve been putting very well, and once I made a few greens things got going,” said the Wingate Park Country Club professional.
He has carded 71, 65 71, 68 so far this week and his dominance at bothBloemfonteinand Schoeman Park Golf Clubs has earned him a deserved one-stroke lead.
Wesley Worster went up a gear at Bloemfontein Golf Club and shot 68 for a move to 12-under-par. The 2010 golf captain at the University of Texas at Arlington recorded his fourth sub-par round to close the day one shot back from Coetzee.
Ruan de Smidt might not have reached the lead, but he also shot 68 and took sole possession of third. His lone drop, which came at 17, was easily outweighed by birdies at the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 14th and 18th.
Danie van Tonder shot a steady 70 to close the day at 10-under-par and take hold of fourth. He was determined to win the competition come Saturday and said: “My plan is to win this – not everyone can say that they won Qualifying School.”
Schoeman Park professional Johann Mostert started with four consecutive birdies and raced around his home track in 66 to move into a share of eighth. “I feel very confident on this course, but I’m just going to take it shot by shot,” he said.
Coetzee declared golf to be his passion on Thursday, and will look to continue his dominance in the final round. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game. You need to be aggressive on these courses, and that’s my style,” he said.
275 – Francois Coetzee (AMA) (RSA) 71 65 71 68
276 – Wesley Worster (RSA) 67 73 68 68
277 – Ruan de Smidt (AMA) (RSA) 70 72 67 68
278 – Danie van Tonder (RSA) 71 70 67 70
279 – Francois Haughton (AMA) (RSA) 71 67 71 70, Kyle Scott (RSA) 70 71 69 69
280 – Riekus Nortje (AMA) (RSA) 74 70 69 67, Juan Langeveld (RSA) 70 66 73 71