Golf fans in the United States are about to get much more familiar with South African George Coetzee. A staple on the European Tour, Coetzee is only making his eighth career PGA Tour start this week at the Tampa Bay Championship. He’s also tied for the lead with Justin Leonard and Kevin Streelman at six under par after three rounds.
Coetzee is currently 42nd in the official world golf rankings with four top 10 finishes on the European Tour this year. He has yet to record a victory in 2013, but he has a second place finish at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and a third place finish at the Joburg Open. If Coetzee can hang on for the victory this week, it would be his first career victory.
The 27 year old South African got into this week’s event at Innisbrook Resort thanks to a sponsor exemption. The fact that he only managed to squeeze in nine practice holes before getting going for real doesn’t seem to have had any negative impact on him. He definitely seems to be making the most of this opportunity. If he continues to take advantage of these chances on the PGA Tour, we’re likely to see quite a bit more of him in the United States.
This kind of story is exactly why I am so enamored with professional golf. At any given tournament, you can have a relative unknown (at least in your part of the world) come out of nowhere and contend for a victory. That is something that you don’t get with most other professional sports. The leaderboard is jam packed heading into the end of the third round and with the difficulty with which the course has been playing, this event is certainly still up for grabs.