Coetzee and Hatton head tight British Masters field at Close House
Close House lived up to its name on Thursday as George Coetzee and Tyrrell Hatton headed a group of seven separated by just one shot at the top of the leaderboard, leaving the British Masters too close to call at the Newcastle course.
Coetzee and Hatton posted rounds of 63 to sit one stroke clear of Alvaro Quiros, Chris Hanson, Mikko Ilonen, Mikko Korhonen and Rikard Karlberg, who are all six under at the end of day one.
A further five players are another shot back, while the 11 on four-under - including tournament host Lee Westwood - make it wide open heading into the rest of the weekend.
Hanson, Ilonen and Korhonen set the pace with strong performances in the morning group, but Coetzee quickly moved to close the gap and eventually edge in front, holing a 50-footer on the first and birdieing the second.
An eagle on the sixth soon followed and a bogey at 16 proved the only blemish on his record.
"I'm happy with the score," he is quoted as saying by the European Tour website. "A couple of niggles actually while I was playing that weren't that good but I had the opportunities when they came and we were able to post a pretty good number."
Hatton, meanwhile, produced six birdies on the back nine to keep pace with Coetzee, having missed the cut in six of his last eight events.
"It was a really good day," he said. "I played lovely out there and gave myself plenty of chances, managed to convert a few at the end.
"Hopefully I can keep the form going with my swing and post another good number.
"I hit a lot of good iron shots and it's nice to feel comfortable in my swing again.
"Obviously I had a really bad summer, which is frustrating, but you're going to go through these phases. Golf's hard and I'm happy with where I'm at now."
Rory McIlroy, who was reliant on a spectator finding his ball before saving par at the 17th, is among a group of 15 at three under.
'Alan asks Rory'
Newcastle legend @alanshearer chats with @McIlroyRory... pic.twitter.com/dsCtaauJC7
â€” The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) September 27, 2017