BELEK, Turkey – Unlike boxers, wrestlers, tennis players or a range of other sports men and women involved in one-on-one combat who wouldn’t dream of helping an opponent, golfers do actually give each other advice – even when that “other” is someone you’re determined to annihilate out on the course.
Take South Africans George Coetzee and Brandon Stone, for instance, who were on the driving range at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, ahead of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open beginning on Thursday.
There was plenty of banter going on: “Brandon,” said Coetzee, “if you don’t mind, I’d like to borrow that new putting aid you’ve got and see if it can improve my game.”
Stone hit back: “No ways, George, you’ve got no chance. How can you say that when you’re ahead of me on the money list (the European Tour’s Race to Dubai)!”
It was just friendly jesting, of course. Stone wasn’t being serious.
A minute later, the two golfers were standing next to each other, comparing aspects of their swings and offering each other tips.
Also present was Stone’s caddie, Alan Burns, who until mid-2017 worked for Coetzee (it’s one like one big happy family out here on tour), who knows a good deal about swing mechanics.
Stone had last week shot a rather horrendous 87 in the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China, and a rather special 68 in round three.
He dismissed the 87 as “just one of those off-days,” but it was probably comforting to have Burns around on the range here in Turkey just to see if he could pick up any possible inconsistencies in his swing.
A new-look Coetzee – he has lost weight in a concerted get-fit campaign – is having his best season on the European Tour in respect of top-10s (eight), so he’s confident and has done well here before, finishing fifth at Carya Golf Club last year.
The other South Africans in this week’s line-up are Dylan Frittelli, Dean Burmester, Richard Sterne and Haydn Porteous (Frittelli, Burmester and Porteous all having won on the European Tour this year).
Heading the list of entries are Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who leads the Race to Dubai, and compatriot Justin Rose, the World No 3, who is third in the Race and won the WGC-HSBC on Sunday, firing a final-day 67 to make up 10 shots on third round leader and World No 1 Dustin Johnson to snatch victory.
And just a reminder for us South Africans: Olympic golf medallist Rose was born in Joburg. He’s almost one of us.