Sunshine Tour

Coetsee shares lead at Highland Gate

Wallie Coetsee (Gallo Images)
Wallie Coetsee (Gallo Images)

Dullstroom - Veteran Sunshine Tour player Wallie Coetsee used a veteran putter on Thursday on his way to an opening six-under-par 66 and a share of the first round of the 54-hole Origins of Golf tournament at Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate.

He shared the lead with American rookie Kyle Pilgrim, and they had a two-stroke edge over Doug McGuigan and Jacques Kruyswijk, who carded 68s.

There was a group of six players a further shot back on 69.

"The putter is the one I used when I won my first tournament 20 years ago," said Coetsee.

"It's a little Top Flite blade putter and I got my feel back. I made 26 putts today, and if you make putts, I think that's the difference."

He put the putter back into play during the recent seven-week break in the Sunshine Tour schedule ahead of the traditional 'winter swing' of tournaments.

"I took five weeks off completely and during the last two weeks before this, I took out all my old stuff - my old bag, my old putter that's 24 years old, my old driver, my old three-wood - to get some confidence and I think it's paid off," he said.

"They're all still in the bag today. My caddie better have put the bag safely in the car, because nobody must pinch it now."

Like Coetsee, Pilgrim made seven birdies and just a single bogey during his round. They both made bogey on the par-three seventh, which turned out to be the most difficult on the course in the opening round.

"It was just a very tough pin position with the tee right back today," said Pilgrim.

"And by the time I reached there, the temperature had dropped and the wind was up."

The man from the United States has played just three tournaments since earning his card at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, making the cut in two of them.

He's in South Africa for the next seven events.

"I'm looking forward to making all my friends jealous with my posts on social media," he added.

Coetsee, who has won twice on the Sunshine Tour in a quarter-century career, was pretty sure of what he had done right and what he needed to do for the rest of the tournament.

"I think I’m the straightest off the tee on tour," he said.

"I hit about 84 percent of the fairways. Like I always say, 'Straight is great; long is wrong.' I don’t hit it as far as the youngsters any more, but I just get it in play and keep swinging well.

"I've been out on tour for 25 years, so I know you can’t look into the future. You've just got to take the round you've just played and enjoy it."

Scores:

66 - Wallie Coetsee, Kyle Pilgrim

68 - Doug McGuigan, Jacques Kruyswijk

69 - Aubrey Beckley, Jason Froneman, Christiaan Basson, Ulrich van den Berg, Matthew Carvell, Andrew van der Knaap

70 - Louis de Jager, Jaco Prinsloo, Justin Harding, Stephen Ferreira

71 - Brandon Stone, Vaughn Groenewald, Tyrone Ryan, Antonio Rosado, Charl Coetzee, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Chris Cannon, Zack Byrd, Michael Hollick

72 - Allan Versfeld, Danie Van Niekerk, Antonio Costa, Steven Ferreira, Ockie Strydom, Sipho Bujela, Wynand Dingle, Irvin Mazibuko, Ruan de Smidt, Riekus Nortje, Andre Nel, JJ Senekal, Jason Diab

73 - PH McIntyre, Matias Calderon, Jared Harvey, Makhetha Mazibuko, Quintin Wilsnach, Madalitso Muthiya, Desne Van Den Bergh, JC Ritchie, Anthony Michael

74 - Theunis Spangenberg, Neil Schietekat, Chris Swanepoel, Heinrich Bruiners, Titch Moore, Andrew Curlewis, Combrinck Smit, Jean Hugo, Teaghan Gauche, N.J. Arnoldi, Francois Coetzee, Rourke van der Spuy, Gert Myburgh, Dwayne Basson

75 - Scott Campbell, Tyrone Ferreira, Stefan Engell Andersen, Colin Nel, Daniel van Tonder, Callum Mowat, Jacquin Hess, Lyle Rowe, Ryan Tipping, Greg Bentley

76 - Teagan Moore, Jake Redman, Jean-Paul Strydom, Herman Loubser, Matthew Spacey, Rhys West, Merrick Bremner, Luke Jerling, Cody Martin, Altaaf Bux, Stuart Smith

77 - Gerrit Foster, Coert Groenewald, Breyten Meyer, Thanda Mavundla, MJ Viljoen, Paul Marks, Toto Thimba

78 - Daniel Hammond, Michael Palmer

79 - Jason Viljoen, Sean Bradley

80 - Drikus van der Walt

82 - Ian Geringer, Mark Williams

84 - Dayne Moore

85 - Jaco Mouton

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