Edited by Anand Datla
May 11, 2015: Domaine de Bel Ombre, Mauritius, May 10: South African George Coetzee won the inaugural AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open after defeating Dane Thorbjorn Olesen with a birdie on the second play-off hole on Sunday.
Overnight leader Coetzee and Olesen ended regulation play tied on 13-under-par 271 at the Heritage Golf Club following final rounds of two-under-par 69 and 68 respectively before the South African rising star produced a four on the par five 18th hole to seal his seventh title on the Sunshine Tour and second of the 2015 season.
The historic €1 million (approximately US$1.1 million) tournament tri-sanctioned by the Asian, European and Sunshine Tours enjoyed a fitting conclusion with Singapore’s veteran Mardan Mamat taking third place, one back of the play-off duo, after he closed with a 67 as all three tours were represented in the top-three.
Power-packed Coetzee seemed in control early in the final round with three birdies in his opening five holes earning him a four-shot cushion. However Olesen, playing in his first event in three months following hand surgery, fought superbly and Coetzee eventually needed to birdie 18 in regulation play to force extra-time.
Both players birdied the first extra hole but after Olesen found the fairway trap with his drive on the second play-off hole, Coetzee took full advantage to claim the champion’s cheque of US$186,545.
“I actually felt more nervous during the day (than the play-off) and I’m happy to have pulled through it. Thorbjorn did unbelievably well to put pressure on me the whole day. I actually had to work to catch him in the end. All in all, I’m happy the job is done and it doesn’t matter how many holes it took,” said Coetzee, who at 63rd in the world was the highest ranked player in the field.
“I was little upset and angry after my bogey on 16 and when I walked up the tee box, I saw that my name was no longer at the top and I couldn’t believe that Thorbjorn birdied 17. I told myself that I needed to give myself a good opportunity on 18 which I did (to get into the play-off).”
Olesen, who was chasing his third European Tour victory, said: “It’s disappointing, of course, when you are in a play-off and you don’t win. George hit some great shots in the play-off to get two birdies as it’s not an easy hole. So big congratulations to him.
“I didn’t expect this before the tournament so to be in a play-off is unbelievable when I haven’t been in a tournament for three months.”
Mardan closed with a fine 67, which included birdies on 16 and 18 but fell one shot shy of the play-off. He bogeyed his fourth hole but brilliantly fought back with three straight birdies to stay in contention.
“I needed a good start which I didn’t get but I had a good finish which was good. I tried to push it on the back nine but couldn’t get it until the last three holes,” said the four-time Asian Tour winner.
He lamented a misfortunate on the par three 15th hole when what looked like a perfect tee shot hit the pin flag and nearly rolled into the watery grave. He made par there before finishing with a flourish with birdies on 16 and 18.
“I got unlucky on that par three. I’m still pleased. When I came here, I was practising at home and was striking it well and was hoping for a good result and I did it. This is the first tri-sanctioned event and to finish in the top-five (he finished third), I’m happy,” said Mardan.
“I have my wife Naz here, we had a holiday and at the same time I can make money and play golf.”
Thomas Aiken of South African finished fourth on 273 following a 70 while Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, England’s John Parry and Australian Scott Hend shared fifth place on 274, with the trio shooting matching 66s.