Mbabane - George Coetzee and Dean Burmester, who have five European
Tour wins between them, both return to Southern Africa this week to star in the
Sunshine Tour's Royal Swazi Open at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club.
neither has won the tournament which is in its 47th year, they are
both high-profile representatives of the sponsors and they commit to playing
the event which was first played in 1971. The venerable tournament has such
champions as multiple major champions Ernie Els and John Daly.
champion is Peter Karmis, and he welcomes the return of the European Tour stars
to the local event.
"It makes it more exciting," said Karmis. "We obviously
want to compete with the best in the world, so the better the players who are
here, the better for us. Also, there are more world ranking points and that
sort of thing, so, honestly, the stronger the field, the better."
finished in a share of 22nd last year in the corresponding event,
while Coetzee finished in a share of fifth. They were both on duty in the
conflicting Mauritius Open for the previous two years, and the
change in the date of that event has meant they can come back to a tournament
that suits their style of play.
tournament is played on a Modified Stableford points system, in which five
points can be won for an eagle, two for a birdie, and a point is lost for a
bogey and three for a double or worse.
encourages aggressive play, but, as Karmis points out, is it also punitive for
"If I can
just eliminate bogeys," he said. "That will give me a good chance to get in the
mix here. For me, the fewer bogeys I'm making means I'm actually start making
more birdies. If I try to make more birdies, I end up making more bogeys. Going
the negative route almost helps me free it up."
famously freed it up when he won the Lombard Insurance Classic on the eSwatini
course in 2009 with a final-round 59. During that 13-under-par effort, he made
three eagles and seven birdies without dropping a shot.
Of the two
European Tour stars, Coetzee has the better recent form, with a second win in
his 'home' Tshwane Open in March and a fourth-place finish in April's Open de
on the other hand, has a best finish of a share of 30th in the
WGC-Mexico Championship in March his recent history, and he will be keen to use
this opportunity in a relaxed atmosphere back in Africa to get things back on
both be in the sights of local players, not least Karmis.
"There are lots of
birdies to be made here if you can just keep it in front of you, then you're in
business here," he said.