George Coetzee ground his way to a one-under-par 69 in the final round of the European Tour’s Saudi International on Sunday to finish in a share of 10th place.
He finished on 10-under for the tournament, five shots behind world number one Dustin Johnson, who took his second victory in three years in the tournament. Johnson, too, struggled, particularly on the greens, but his two-under 68 was enough to give him a two-stroke edge over a former world number one in Justin Rose, who climbed into a share of second with Tony Finau with his five-under closing round.
Coetzee made birdie on the par-five fourth, but gave that stroke back when he bogeyed the seventh, and he turned in level-par. He looked to have got things going for a challenge for a top-five position when he made consecutive birdies on 12 and 13, but a drop on the 16th meant he had to keep his wits about him to make sure that didn’t turn into a trend. In the end, he was unable to pick up a birdie on the par-five 18th, which could have lifted him into a share of sixth.
But it was a good week for the world number 90, and the performance should take him inside the 70s when the next Official World Golf Ranking list comes out at the end of the weekend.
“Conditions when we started were really tough,” Johnson said of his final round. “I knew I was hitting it well. I saw the leaderboard and I knew the guys were playing well. I kept giving myself chances – I didn’t hole any of them but I hit good shots and I finally holed a really nice putt on 13 and from there on I played solid.”
Wilco Nienaber was the next-best South African after his closing one-over 71 saw him finish in a share of 33rd. Justin Harding and Justin Walters also closed with 71s, finishing on three-under for the tournament in a share of 41st, while Dean Burmester carded a one-under to climb into 41st with them. Christiaan Bezuidenhout was three-over on Sunday to finish one-under for the tournament in 53rd, while the last of the South Africans to make the cut, Richard Sterne, went four-over to wind up in a share of 66th.