European Tour: Tshwane Open preview

George Coetzee will start as one of the home favourites in South Africa

George Coetzee plays in Tshwane Open
George Coetzee plays in Tshwane Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The European Tour remains in South Africa this week for the Tshwane Open. With the world’s best in Mexico for the first WGC event of the year, there’s a chance for a player to make ground on the Race to Dubai.

The Tshwane Open is being held this week at Pretoria CC in South Africa. The WGC-Mexico Championship is running concurrently on the other side of the Atlantic but a strong selection of players has gathered in Pretoria to contest this event.

The historic Pretoria Country Club lies in the suburb of Waterkloof. The club has a history dating back to 1910 and the golf course was redesigned by Gary Player in 2004.

This will be the fifth time the Tshwane Open has been contested as part of the European Tour schedule. In 2013, Dawie Van Der Walt was the champion, Ross Fisher of England took the title the following year and South Africans George Coetzee and Charl Schwartzel were winners in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Schwartzel won last year by an impressive eight shots. He finished on 16-under-par, ahead of Denmark’s Jeff Winther in second.

The 2011 Masters champion will not be back to defend his title this season as he tees it up in Mexico. But the home nation will be well represented with 47 South African entrants this week, at the time of writing. Former champ George Coetzee will play, as will Jaco Van Zyl, Thomas Aiken, Trevor Immelman and last week’s winner Darren Fichardt.

The weather forecast for the week looks unsettled. There’s definitely going to be rain and quite likely a spot of thunder and lightning. After last week’s Joburg Open was reduced to 54 holes, organisers will be hoping the same thing doesn’t happen this time out.

Venue: Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa Date: Mar 2-5 Course stats: par 71, 7,081 yards Purse: €1,300,000 Defending Champion: Charl Schwartzel (-16)

TV Coverage: Thursday 2– Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am Friday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am Saturday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am Sunday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am

Player watch: James Morrison – The Englishman is on good form after a tied 12th place finish in Malaysia and a tie for fourth last week in the Joburg Open. He’ll look to continue that run this week.

George Coetzee – A former winner of this event, Coetzee was tied seventh last week in the Joburg Open. He was also tied seventh in the recent Dubai Desert Classic.

George Coetzee swing sequence:

Nacho Elvira – He missed the cut in his last outing but he’d been enjoying great consistency before that. He was tied sixth in Qatar and tied 11th in Dubai. He’s due a breakthrough European Tour win and this could be the week to achieve it.

Key hole: 18th. This 514-yard par-5 was played as a par-4 in earlier instalments of this event but it’s once again a par-5 and that means there is a distinct chance for glory late on. Look out for birdies and maybe even eagles turning this tournament at the death.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?