George Coetzee of South Africa secured his third European Tour title with a playoff victory over Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage GC in Domaine de Bel Ombre.
In this, the first tournament to be tri-sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours, Coetzee lived up to his billing as the top-ranked player in the field. The South African led Olesen by one at the start of the day and moved three clear early in the final round. But a drive out-of-bounds at the seventh allowed Olesen to get back in and it was the Dane who applied the pressure on the run for home.
In the end, Coetzee had to birdie the par-5 18th to match Olesen’s 72-hole total of 13-under-par.
Returning to the 18th for a sudden-death playoff, Coetzee rattled off two more birdies to see off his rival and take the trophy, and winner’s cheque for €166,660.
Four things we learned at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open:
1. George Coetzee has now won twice on the 2015 European Tour; he also claimed victory at the Tshwane Open in his native South Africa back in March. Incredibly, after just 20 tournaments, Coetzee is the fifth multiple winner on the 2015 European Tour. The others are: Branden Grace, Anirban Lahiri, Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy.
The victory has lifted the 28-year-old to 52nd place on the Official World Golf Ranking.
2. Thorbjorn Olesen enjoyed a superb return to competitive action following three months out with a hand injury. The talented Dane was something of an unknown quantity heading into the week as he hadn’t played since the Maybank Malaysian Open in February and hadn’t made a cut on the European Tour since the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in January. But those who questioned his chances of performing well in Mauritius were duly silenced as he put together four great rounds to reach the playoff. Watch out for him in the coming weeks.
3. Scott Hend of Australia, an experienced player and multiple winner on the Asian Tour, produced an incredibly inconsistent performance to finish the week in a tie for fifth place, just three shots behind the winners. On the front nine at the Heritage GC he made just 14 pars in 36 holes. His third round of 70 (one-under-par) included six birdies, an eagle, five bogeys, a double bogey and just five pars. In total he made 22 birdies and an eagle and finished the four rounds at 10-under-par. If he can eliminate the mistakes, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
4. Javier Colomo reached the par-4 ninth on Friday needing a birdie to make the cut. The pressure was on, but the Spaniard was up to it. He drove off at the 322-yard hole and was happy with the strike and direction. He couldn’t see from the tee just how good it was. The ball went into the hole for an incredible albatross ace! It was the first hole-in-one at a par-4 in the history of the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.
“I needed the birdie so I had to take the risk of going for the green,” he said. “I hit a very high driver, straight to the flag, and I thought the ball was close, possibly for eagle, so I thought the cut was done, but I couldn’t believe it went in.”