Cheers for Coetzee

South African celebrates birthday with birdie bonanza

George Coetzee was not allowed much of a lie-in on his 28th birthday yesterday, but it did not bother him at all as the South African celebrated with a feast of birdies in the second round of the British Open at Hoylake.

The Joburg Open champion was perhaps slightly sleepy-eyed as he dropped a stroke at the par-four second, but an outstanding sequence of five birdies in 11 holes to the 15th briefly lifted him into a share of the lead with overnight pacesetter Rory McIlroy.

Coetzee then suffered a mini-slump with bogeys at the 16th and 17th before he signed off in style with a sixth birdie of the day at the last hole, securing a three-under 69 and a five-under tally of 139.

"I tried to leave a little bit late. I like to get my sleep-in, but I think we woke up at five past five, left the hotel at 5.30am and got here at 5.45am," Coetzee said in a reference to his 7.20am tee-off time.

"But this is definitely my favourite Major. To have my birthday coincide with it is nice."

The players awoke to another blazing hot day on the Royal Liverpool links but with the winds a lot fresher than they were in Thursday's opening round.

"I think this morning was quite bad. The wind blew, but all the holes weren't playing into the wind so they weren't playing super long," said Coetzee, who ended a run of near-misses by capturing his maiden European Tour title in Johannesburg in February.

"You just had to kind of manufacture your shape for the crosswinds. Obviously, you can't control your score there as well as you would on a parkland course, but I just think it's a lot more fun and you get to use your imagination a bit more."


Coetzee said that he became a little nervous at one stage when he glanced up at the leaderboard and realised he was in a share of the lead at golf's oldest Major championship.

"It's obvious I looked at it as soon as I was at the top of the leaderboard because I made two bogeys right after that," he laughed.

"But it was quite a good feeling to look at my name and be at the top."

Coetzee flew his mother and girlfriend over from South Africa this week but he downplayed his birthday celebrations yesterday.

Asked if they would all be having a few drinks, he smiled: "Yeah, a couple of Cokes."

- Reuters.

This is definitely my favourite Major. To have my birthday coincide with it is nice.

- George Coetzee