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- George Coetzee won his fifth European Tour title this past weekend at the Portugal Masters.
- It was Coetzee’s second consecutive win following his success in the Titleist Championship on the Sunshine Tour two weeks ago.
- Coetzee revealed to reporters that he prepped himself during the lockdown by studying and playing darts and snooker.
South Africa’s George Coetzee kept his nerve in the final round of the Portugal Masters at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on Sunday.
Coetzee carded a bogey-free final round to finish on 16-under par, two shots ahead of England’s Laurie Canter, and win his fifth European Tour title.
The Portugal Masters was Coetzee’s first European Tour event since the Qatar Masters in March.
Coetzee spent the nationwide lockdown in South Africa and finally returned to action once the Sunshine Tour resumed on 19 August with the Rise-Up Series.
He participated in the opening three Rise-Up Series events and went on to win his 11th Sunshine Tour title at his home Pretoria Country Club for the Titleist Championship.
After his stunning win on Sunday, Coetzee told reporters that during the nationwide lockdown he used a combination of snooker and darts to keep himself “mentally” in shape for golf’s resumption.
“The keepy uppies and the darts, yes, I was working on those mentally but the main sport I actually focused on was snooker,” said Coetzee.
“It is funny but snooker is probably the closest sport you get to golf because it is a stationary ball that you have to approach in a certain way, so I watched a lot of videos on mental stuff in snooker.”
Coetzee added that along with his psychologist, Adam Wright. he spent seven hours a day playing snooker and going through the “thought processes” of the cue sport.
“I don’t have any technical background or history in snooker, everything was based on my frame of mind and the only thing [that] could really affect was my frame of mind,” he said.
“I can’t all of a sudden cue it better or aim it better … but I really enjoy the similarities in the sports in how you approach shots.
“I even got heart rate data from snooker. Phases where I played really well and made a couple of nice breaks, and then phases where I made nothing, simple shots were missed, and then I could look at the heart rate data and compare that with the mental approach as well.”
It was Coetzee’s first European Tour victory in Europe and first time he won an event that was not co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.
Coetzee took home a cool €156 825 (R3.09 million) for his win and jumped 62 places in the World Golf Rankings to lie 85th.
He admitted that playing in the Rise-Up Series was the perfect opportunity to prepare for the European Tour’s gruelling revised schedule.
“I think playing in an atmosphere that I am comfortable with and guys that I know, and staying home before events, it eased me back into golf,” he said.
“Right when the golf courses opened again in South Africa, I was a solid six handicap, and then a couple weeks later I was maybe a decent scratch, and then as the Sunshine Tour started up I was playing really well … I definitely got to work on everything that I wanted to work on to get myself ready for the bigger stage.”
Coetzee confirmed that he will be staying in Europe and will not be returning home for the remainder of the Sunshine Tour’s Rise-Up Series.
“I have ticked a lot of boxes that I wanted to tick this year, so I am quite happy to take it easy.”
He is scheduled to tee up in this week’s Open de Portugal at Royal Obidos Spa & Golf Resort.
– Compiled by Lynn Butler