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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Sam Horsfield can gallop to the finish and pressure the leader

English rookie hits form in round three

Q School champion Sam Horsfield is making great strides
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 10am Sunday

Story so far
George Coetzee is on course for justifying favouritism in the Tshwane Open, the pre-tournament 12-1 chance leading by two shots going into the final round at Pretoria Country Club.

Rounds of 67, 64 and 68 have put Coetzee at 14 under par, and odds-on across the board for a second Tshwane victory. No bigger than 4-6 is available with 18 holes to play.

Sam Horsfield and Mikko Korhonen are tied for second place, with a further two-shot gap to a quartet of players sharing fourth spot.

-14 George Coetzee
-12 Sam Horsfield, Mikko Korhonen
-10 Thomas Aiken, Scott Jamieson, Erik van Rooyen, Felipe Aguilar
-8 Sebastien Gros, Adilson Da Silva, Daniel van Tonder, Shaun Norris, Victor Perez
-7 Jens Dantorp, Jacques Kruyswijk, Connor Syme, Matt Carvell, Scott Vincent, Laurie Canter

Best prices
4-6 G Coetzee, 11-2 M Korhonen, 15-2 S Horsfield, 16 E van Rooyen, 20 T Aiken, S Jamieson, 25 F Aguilar, 66 S Norris, 100 bar

Final-day advice
George Coetzee is in command of the Tshwane Open, but his backers will not be able to rest easy until it is mathematically impossible for him to lose the tournament. The free-spirited local lad can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in a flash.

Punters who are on at the ante-post 12-1 can be on good terms with themselves and look forward to the final round, but getting involved at odds-on at this stage holds no appeal given how little course-management ability Coetzee possesses.

The leader was in brilliant ball-striking form in round three, exuding control on his home track, but he still found a way of making a bogey-six at the 18th hole to encourage the chasing pack. That sloppy closing effort has added an extra layer of pressure for Sunday.

Coetzee knows every blade of grass at Pretoria Country Club, won this title in 2015 and is a three-time European Tour victor who is in excellent form. His last ten competitive rounds – in the Dimension Data Pro-Am, Qatar Masters and this week – are 67, 66, 66, 69, 66, 71, 68, 67, 64 and 68. He is clearly the most likely winner.

There is always scope for Coetzee to implode though – his temperament is his biggest weakness – and there will be plenty in the betting community taking a chance on others a big prices.

Sam Horsfield is a player of great promise and arguably the best value option at this stage. There is no reason why the young English powerhouse should be a significantly bigger price than the man with whom he is tied for second.

Mikko Korhonen has squandered plenty of winning opportunities and the 37-year-old Finn must be starting to wonder whether he will ever become a European Tour champion. He left his birdie putt in the jaws at the 18th to close round three on a sour note and he could narrowly miss out on this title for the second year running, having finished tied second 12 months ago. Korhonen has never even won on the Challenge Tour.

Horsfield, in contrast, is a 21-year-old carrying great confidence that he will enjoy a long and successful career at a high level, filling his mantelpiece with silverware. The Manchester-born slugger, who grew up in the States and built a fearsome reputation as a junior in Orlando, won the European Tour Q School by eight shots in November.

With playing rights assured for the time being, and a fourth-place finish in the Perth Super 6 last month adding to the job security, Horsfield can attack Coetzee with freedom from the final pairing. Chris Paisley upset Branden Grace and South African galleries in an SA Open duel in January, and another Englishman could play the role of party pooper this week. A bogey-free third-round 64 has set Horsfield up wonderfully for Sunday.

Erik van Rooyen is tempting at 16-1. Like Coetzee, he built a huge bank of course experience of Pretoria Country Club from his junior days, and he has won on both the Sunshine Tour and the Challenge Tour in the last 13 months. Thomas Aiken and Scott Jamieson have proven they can win on the European Tour, and should not be dismissed either, but Van Rooyen, Aiken and Jamieson has probably all given Coetzee too much of a headstart.

Korhonen, Van Rooyen, Aiken and Jamieson can make a move on Coetzee, but Horsfield is the rival the frontrunner should probably be most worried about. There is a fearlessness about this emerging talent and he seems likely to relish this opportunity.

Outright recommendation
S Horsfield
1pt each-way 15-2 Betfred

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There is always scope for Coetzee to implode
E.W. Terms
Sky bet