Coetzee clinches home victory as Clarke caresses Top 10

Coetzee clinches home victory as Clarke caresses Top 10

A bogey at the 18th denied Darren Clarke his first Top 10 on the European Tour since he won the Open nearly four years ago.

Europe's Ryder Cup skipper was two under for the day coming to the last in the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club but a closing five at the 516-yard finishing hole forced him to sign for a 69 and a share of 15th on five-under par, one shot outside the Top 10.

The Dungannon man ended the week nine strokes behind local hero George Coetzee, who closed with a stunning 65 to win his second European Tour title on his home course.

He finished one shot ahead of compatriot Jacques Blaauw at the course where he has been a member since taking up the game and where he won his first junior competition aged ten.

Blaauw had charged through the field with a stunning closing 61 to equal the course record and set the clubhouse target at 13 under par, with the final groups still having nine holes to play. 

However, Coetzee - who was one of six players sharing the lead overnight - was just one behind after finishing his front nine with three birdies in four holes and picked up further shots on the back nine to seal victory.

The decisive moment came on the 17th after Coetzee had tried to drive the green on the short par four.

 George Coetzee couldn't avoid a soaking from well wishers during his TV interview

George Coetzee couldn't avoid a soaking from well wishers during his TV interview

His tee shot came up in the trees short and right of the green but with a clear path between two bunkers the World Number 87 took full advantage, chipping to five feet and holing for a birdie to take a one shot lead down the last.

“To win at your own club in front of all your friends and family – the crowds were amazing, I could just feel the momentum building and the crowd getting bigger and bigger towards the end. It’s a great experience and a very special day for me,” said Coetzee, whose previous European Tour win also came on home soil at last year’s Joburg Open.

“I think I’ve got this course down after 18 years of playing golf! I think it played to my advantage knowing when to be aggressive and when not to.

“I threw one club championship away here by playing conservative on 17, so today it was quite an easy decision to hit driver!”

Clarke share of 15th equalled his finish in the Asian Tour's Dubai Open last December. But he would have needed to match Blaauw, who shared 22nd spot with him overnight, to challenge for his first win since The Open in 2011.

"It was fun out there, everything just went in," said Blaauw, who was playing in the group ahead of Clarke. "I got a bit of luck on nine when I hit it left but had a swing and got it up and down it for birdie, and then after that made some putts. It's always good to be in contention in these big events coming down the stretch."

Michael Hoey closed with a four under 74 to finish tied 59th on two over an earn €4,575.

Hoey is 120th in the Race to Dubai while Clarke, who made € 18,806 is 166th.