George Coetzee coasted through his first 13 holes during round one of the WGC-HSBC Champions on Thursday, then went on a triple-birdie run to join a tie for 14th place.
The three-time European Tour winner features on the cover of Compleat Golfer’s November edition, but on Thursday at Sheshan International Golf Club his golf did the talking.
Coetzee took advantage of the soft condition of the course, which has received plenty of rain through the last four days. Coming home with three birdies for the final four holes will be a huge confidence booster, but he’s played against the best many times before. He’s played all four majors, finished 15th at The Open in 2011, and was seventh at the PGA Championship last year.
Leading the way was Rikard Karlberg, who ripped up the soft Chinese course in an eight-under-par 64 to move one stroke clear of crowd-favourite Rickie Fowler.
America’s Daniel Berger, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and defending champ Russell Knox were tied for third on six under par.
Dean Burmester led the South African contingent with his share of ninth place on four under par, having carded a 68 that included a bogey-free back nine.
Compleat Golfer’s playing editor Louis Oosthuizen was tied for 24th on one under par, Charl Schwartzel tied for 34th on level par and Branden Grace tied for 48th on one over par.
Jacques Blaauw and Richard Sterne struggled on Thursday and carded 76 and 77, respectively.
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