Coetzee retains top 50 status to clinch Masters berth

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His opportunity to clinch a Masters berth seemingly slipping away, George Coetzee fired a final-round, 7-under 65 Sunday at the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Why was that significant? The South African was No. 49 in the Official World Ranking, and the OWGR releases its year-end rankings today, with the top 50 earning Masters invites. After finishing in a tie for 10th, it seems likely that Coetzee will retain his position inside the top 50 and make his Masters debut in April.

Closing in on the 2012 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title, Coetzee was runner-up at the SA Open to vault from 70th to 49th in the rankings. In his past two starts, however, he finished T-26 and T-39, respectively.

“It’s been tough,” he said, via Michael Todt of SuperSport.com. “Last week I could feel that The Masters was making me play a bit rubbish because it puts a bit of pressure on you.”

The Masters will mark Coetzee’s fifth career start in a major. He played three of the four major championships in 2012, missing the cut in each, and was T-15 at the 2011 Open Championship. Coetzee said he remembered watching the Masters as a kid back home in South Africa, and vividly recalled when, for instance, Phil Mickelson nipped Ernie Els at the 2004 Masters and “when he holed that putt, jumped like a baboon.”

“I don’t just dream of playing. My dream has never been just to play in the Masters,” Coetzee said, according to the report. “I know a couple of guys say that all they want t do in their life is play all four majors. That’s not the job description – I want to play in those majors and I want to win all of them. It’s great to have the opportunity. As they say in power: If you have a chip and a chair, you never know.”