Saffas stick together in Turkey

George Coetzee
George Coetzee in action during the pro-am round of the 2017 Turkish Airlines Open; credit Michael Denker.

Unlike like boxers, wrestlers, tennis players or a range of other sports men and women involved in one-on-one combat who wouldn’t dream of helping an opponent, golfers do actually give each other advice – even when that “other” is someone you’re determined to annihilate out on the course.

Take South Africans George Coetzee and Brandon Stone, who were on the driving range at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, ahead of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open.

There was plenty of banter going on: “Brandon,” said Coetzee, “If you don’t mind I’d like to borrow that new putting aid you’ve got and see if it can improve my game.”

Stone hit back: “No ways, George, you’ve got no chance. How can you say that when you’re ahead of me on the money list [the European Tour’s Race to Dubai]!”

It was just friendly jesting, of course. Stone wasn’t being serious.

A minute later the two golfers were standing next to each other, comparing aspects of their swings and offering each other tips. Also present was Stone’s caddie, Alan Burns, who until mid-2017 worked for Coetzee and knows a good deal about swing mechanics.

Stone had shot a rather horrendous 87 in the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China last week, and a rather special 68 in round three.

He dismissed the 87 as “just one those off-days,” but it was probably comforting to have Burns around on the range here in Turkey just to see if he could pick up any possible inconsistencies in his swing.

The new-look Coetzee, who lost 15 kilos in a concerted get-fit campaign, is having his best season on the European Tour. With eight top 10s, he is confident ahead of the sixth event in the season-ending Rolex Series. And he has done well here before, finishing fifth at Carya Golf Club last year.

The other South Africans in this week’s line-up include Dylan Frittelli, Dean Burmester and Haydn Porteous, who have all bagged victories on the European Tour this year, as well as Richard Sterne.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who leads the Race to Dubai, heads the world-class field that also features Olympic medallists Justin Rose from England and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

South African-born Rose fired a final day 67 In China on Sunday to make up 10 shots on third round leader and world number one Dustin Johnson to snatch victory.

Article by: Lali Stander