Veteran Marcus Fraser has survived a major scare in the second round of match play to claim the 2021 Gippsland Super 6 crown at Yallourn Golf Club.
Delivery of the trophy to his children Archie and Lily was Fraser’s first priority after edging Swiss rookie Alessandro Noseda by a stroke in the six-hole final, but the possibility of victory looked unlikely after his first four holes of the day.
Having earned a first round bye due to finishing in the top eight of the 54-hole stroke play section, Fraser faced fellow Victorian Andrew Martin in the second round and found himself two-down with two holes to play.
When Martin double-bogeyed 17 Fraser capitalised with birdie to take a one stroke advantage to the final hole, following that up with wins over Josh Younger and Bryden Macpherson to earn a place in the final.
“There was a three-shot swing there and then we both parred the last,” Fraser recalled.
“That was a little bit unexpected. I was nearly packing my bags, two shots behind with two holes to go.
“I played great in my second match and then felt really comfortable out there.”
Fraser’s last win of note came at the European Tour’s Maybank Championship in Malaysia in 2016, the chance to share it with his family adding special significance to his latest win.
“I promised the kids they could see the trophy before they go to bed so I’ll do that,” said Fraser on his 90-minute journey back to Melbourne.
“They see all the ups and downs now of what I do so it’s nice to give them a little treat and bring them something home.
"Sometimes you're crying out for a break but when it's actually taken away from you and you can't do it you actually realise how much you love doing what you do.
"COVID has probably taught a lot of us that once again. I genuinely love playing golf and it's great to be back out on the course competing. That's what we do. That's our DNA, what we love doing."
A Swiss native who spent a year at Middle Tennessee State University and last year completed a Bachelor of International Business and Finance on the Gold Coast, Noseda had to get past Ben Eccles, Jason Norris, David Bransdon and Peter Cooke before meeting Fraser in the final.
Coached by 2016 PGA of Australia National Coach of the Year Richard Woodhouse with Italian European Tour legend Giuseppe Cali as a mentor, Noseda was disappointed to fall short in the final yet excited about the work he did through 2020 transferring to the golf course.
“Of course, I’m a little bit disappointed to not have been able to win it at the end but ‘Frase’ played very well, very solid,” said Noseda, whose entire family all contracted COVID in Switzerland and have all since recovered.
“I knew I was playing good, I had confidence. I knew I had practiced well and prepared well during the period of COVID. I felt confident and tried to win, that was my thought.”
In the play-off for third and fourth, South Australian Peter Cooke fought back from two shots down to birdie the final three holes and pip Victorian Bryden Macpherson.
Currently undertaking his PGA bridging course so that he can teach at his home club of The Vines Golf Club of Reynella, Cooke credited his result to some help from fellow Aussie professionals.
“I was having some trouble with my clubs and I was chatting to Scott Arnold and he sent me his old ones to see if I’d like them,” Cooke said of putting Arnold’s back-up PING Blueprints in the bag.
“I tried them for a couple of days and they felt amazing so I put them straight in the bag. They performed beautifully.
“Then I played the pro-am on Wednesday with Terry Pilkadaris and he was helping me out with some wedge shots. I pitched the ball beautifully this week so I owe a little bit to Terry too for the tips he was giving me.”
A decade since his British Amateur Championship win, Macpherson recently returned to Australia from the United States unsure of what his tournament future looked like.
Without status on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, Macpherson has been working with former Australian Masters champion Brad Hughes since November 2019 and believes he is now on a path that has eluded him for the past 10 years.
“It’s never been more likely that I’m now in a position where I can play at a higher level more often. Of all the times in my golfing career, where I’m at now has the best chance to be that,” Macpherson explained.
“I read Hugo’s e-book a couple of times and then drove up to South Carolina from Florida and started this journey to try and understand my swing a little better and the golf swing a little bit better.
“I played great the first three rounds this morning and was pretty much in total control of what I was doing. I was a little disappointed that my form didn’t continue all the way through today but that’s just how it goes. Next time it will continue a little bit longer and then the time after that a little bit longer again.
“This is good for me. I have never had a golf tournament where I feel like I can control my ball for 72 holes… and stick to the same thing for 72 holes. That’s a huge thing for me because I’ve never had that.
“It’s good signs.”
It was a disappointing day for Deyen Lawson, the 54-hole leader falling in his first match of the day to Daniel Gale at the first extra hole. None of the top four stroke play qualifiers progressed through to the semi-finals.
The ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia now moves on to Rosebud Country Club for the inaugural event in The Players Series to be hosted by former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.