Coetzee trails by 1 in pursuit of Masters bid

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George Coetzee's Masters hopes are still alive.

Despite a rocky start, a 1-under 71 left Coetzee tied for fourth at the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II, one shot off the lead heading into the final round.

The South African began the week at No. 69 in the world rankings, and with a win in Morocco he would move inside the top 50 in the world, earning an invitation to Augusta National in the process.

Coetzee appeared to have played his way out of contention early in the third round, with four bogeys over his first eight holes to drop well off the pace. He rallied over his inward half, making five birdies en route to a 4-under 32.

Coetzee won two weeks ago at the Tshwane Open, but if he is to hoist another trophy he'll need to overcome a crowded leaderboard. Richie Ramsay, Romain Wattel and Andrew McArthur share the lead at 7 under, but Coetzee is one of 10 players who will begin the final round within one shot of the lead.

Coetzee's only Masters appearance came in 2013, when he missed the cut by a shot.

This week marks the final chance for players to earn an invite to the season's first major via the world rankings. Coetzee is the only player with a realistic chance of cracking the top 50 among those playing in Morocco, while Harris English, Matt Jones and Marc Warren still have a chance to do so with a high finish at the Valero Texas Open.

After the newest rankings are published on Monday, the final spot in the Masters field will go to the winner of next week's Shell Houston Open.