Mauritius: Mardan Mamat‘s brave bid for victory fell agonisingly short as George Coetzee overcame Thorbjorn Olesen at the second extra hole to continue his sensational form with victory in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
The South African, who lived up to his billing as the highest-ranked player in the field, birdied the 18th hole at Heritage Golf Club three times in succession – once in regulation and then twice in the play-off after the pair finished tied on 13-under-par.
The last of those was enough for victory as Olesen, who had earlier overcome a four-shot deficit on the front nine with a round of 68, could only manage a par after missing the fairway and being forced to lay up.
Singaporean Mardan ended in third place just one stroke shy of joining the play-off. “I’m very pleased. Before I came here, I was practising at home and was striking it well. I was hoping for a good result this week and I did it,” said 47-year-old Mardan.
The 28-year-old Coetzee started the day one ahead of compatriot Thomas Aiken and Dane Olesen, but pulled clear with a sensational start as he birdied the second and third from close range after some wonderful iron play.
“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, ranked 63rd in the world.
“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 birdied two of his last three holes for a 67 which left him on 12-under par, with Aiken fourth on 11-under following a round of 70.