Inspired by the disappointment of narrowly missing a spot in the 2017 Masters at Augusta, Victorian amateur Brett Coletta has upstaged the pros to win the Isuzu Queensland Open by three strokes.
The 20-year-old becomes the first amateur to win the coveted trophy since fellow Victorian Stuart Appleby did it back in 1991, which was the last time The Brisbane Golf Club hosted the event.
Coletta’s victory ended a topsy-turvy fortnight, which began with a runner-up finish in the Asia-Pacific Championship in Korea. A win there would have seen him teeing up in the Masters next April. He then received a late invite into the Queensland Open this week when NSW elite amateur Cameron Davis turned professional.
Coletta took his opportunity to play the Queensland Open with both hands. He started the final round at seven under and with a four-shot buffer over Victorian Lucas Herbert and NSW’s Dale Brandt-Richards.
In years gone by an amateur leading a chasing pack of professionals heading in to the final round might have been expected to wilt under such expectation and pressure. But not Coletta, who was the medalist at the 2015 US Amateur.
He began proceedings beautifully with a birdie at the par-4 1st hole to move to eight under and take a five-shot lead over playing partner Herbert.
Both Herbert and Brandt-Richards bogied twice early in their rounds but it was Herbert, who capitalised best on his chances to the push Coletta all the way.
Coletta’s early five-stroke lead was slashed to just one when Herbert made eagle on the par-5 12th hole and backed it up with a birdie at the next after almost holing his tee shot for an ace.
There was then a nervous wobble from Coletta, who double-bogied the par-4 14th hole hole.
“When Herbie eagled I thought I could put that aside, but he hit a great shot on the next hole and made birdie,” Coletta told Golf Queensland.
“I made a good three but then had that error on the 14th and things had changed.”
The Victorian retained his one-shot lead after both parred the 15th, but Herbert bogied 16 and Coletta rolled in a 30-foot putt for birdie on 17 to push his lead out to three strokes.
Coletta, who is a member of the Golf Australia National Squad, said this victory has given him the confidence to seriously contemplate turning professional.
“This win gives me a two-year exemption to Australasian Tour events and I will have some serious discussions with a number of people before deciding what to do,” he said.
Herbert, a former Victorian amateur teammate of Coletta, missed out on the trophy but collected the winner’s cheque of $16,500.
Brandt-Richards finished with an even par 70 to grab a share of third place alongside Tasmanian Kalem Richardson, who surged up the leaderboard with a final round 67.