Coetzee launches himself into Tshwane Open contention

A flawless round in front of his home fans sent George Coetzee hurtling to the top of the Tshwane Open leaderboard.

George Coetzee at the Tshwane Open   -  Getty Images

George Coetzee put himself in contention to win a second Tshwane Open title by taking a one-shot lead at Pretoria Country Club on Friday.

South African Coetzee was the champion in 2015 and boosted his chance of a repeat by posting a bogey-free seven-under 64 to surge into pole position, with Mikko Korhonen and Felipe Aguilar his closest challengers.

A run of six birdies in seven holes to finish his opening nine sent Coetzee hurtling up the leaderboard, but his only further gain came on the par-three eighth.

"It was a nice stretch on the back nine - my front nine - where I got a couple of birdies in a row," the 31-year-old said.

"On the front nine - my back nine - I felt like I played pretty well, I just didn't get the ball in the hole but I guess that's the way golf works.

"My short game feels good and it keeps me in the mix."

An eagle on the par-five ninth enabled Korhonen – a runner-up in 2017 – to match Coetzee's 64, while a bogey at the last denied Aguilar a share of top spot.

Overnight leader Louis de Jager birdied the 18th, but slipped to a four-way share of fourth by signing for a level-par 71, while 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett's three-under 68 was sufficient for him to make his first cut of the season.