When George Coetzee jumped off a surfboard in Bali early in September last year and broke his left fibula it brought a premature end to a terrific season on the fairways of the world. The Pretoria Country Club professional had won twice on the European Tour in 2015 – in the Tshwane Open and the Mauritius Open. And in August, shortly before the surfing accident, he had placed seventh in the US PGA, his best finish in a Major Championship.
In short, things were going along pretty well for the 29-year-old who was in contention for a place in the International Team for the Presidents Cup. Coetzee says: ‘I didn’t realise how shallow the water was in Bali and that’s what caused the break.’ He limped home in three-over-par 75.
He was able to raise a smile, but declared that he still has some way to go before he is tournament ready. He says: ‘It wasn’t the start I was looking for. The leg was beginning to stiffen up, I didn’t play well and I spent a bit too much time in the shade (implying that he was often off the fairway in the trees).’ Coetzee had to undergo surgery twice to fix his leg and, although initially he wasn’t too fazed about being away from golf as he was able to kill time fishing which is one of his passions, the frustration soon set in.
Coetzee says: ‘I got so bored and it was only two weeks before Christmas that I was able to starting playing a little social golf, down in the southern Cape at courses like Oubaai, Pinnacle Point, Stilbaai and Heidelberg and I also took part in the Ernie Els Invitational at Fancourt.’ He will have to go some to make the cut here but he’s a quality golfer and, sooner or later, it’s pretty certain he’ll be back.
Photo credit: Catherine Kotze / SASPA