Bryden Macpherson has spent the past decade roaming the globe searching for the moment that would come 30 minutes from his childhood home on the Mornington Peninsula in winning the 2021 Moonah Links PGA Classic.
An eagle and four birdies over his final six holes rocketed Macpherson to 18 under and the clubhouse lead before Sydney’s Justin Warren came to the last needing an eagle to force a playoff.
Warren’s flop shot over a greenside bunker finished four feet from the hole to give Macpherson a maiden ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia title and put something of an end point of an extraordinary 10-year journey back close to where it all began.
Victory at the 2011 British Amateur first thrust Macpherson into the upper echelon of world golf – if only for a week at a time – and then he turned professional after playing The Masters in 2012, one of the perks that came with his win at Hillside Golf Club.
He has won three times in China, wrestled with golf’s vagaries on the secondary Korn Ferry Tour in the United States and endured heartbreak at qualifying school in trying to play his way onto the European Tour. But he has never been better placed to make an impression on the golf world than he is right now.
“As I’ve grown up and spent time around lots and lots of people in lots and lots of places I’ve learned that, as cliche and terrible as it sounds, you’ve just got to stay with what you’re doing,” said Macpherson, whose final round of eight-under 64 was the best of the day by two strokes.
“It’s my fourth professional win and it’s starting to look a little bit more like a career.
“Winning at home is awesome, and on the Peninsula even better, but there are much bigger events on this Tour.
“I look forward to trying to compete in them over the next few years.”
With the prospect of border closures, the final 36 holes of the Moonah Links PGA Classic were played on Thursday, groups of two sharing a cart for the final two rounds across the rolling expanse of the Open Course at Moonah Links.
In a wildly fluctuating final day, Kiwi Michael Hendry edged out in front early in the fourth round, before Warren used birdies at 1 and 6 and an eagle at 4 to establish a three-shot lead.
But three bogeys in the space of four holes around the turn brought the Sydneysider back to the pack and gave Macpherson a window to launch an audacious final assault.
“I was in a really calm headspace. All I could see was good shots and I was getting out of the way and letting them happen,” Macpherson said.
“I holed a putt on 13, just missed one on 14 but was feeling really good and then the heavens opened.
“I holed a 30-footer on 15 and then holed a great 10-footer on 16, 30-footer down the hill at 17 and then hit two of the best golf shots I’ve hit all week on 18. Roasted driver and then roasted 3-iron onto the green to make things a bit easier for me, rolled it down to a couple of feet and tapped it in.”
Top-five finishes at both the Gippsland Super 6 and The Players Series Victoria were followed by a tie for 16th at the Vic PGA also held at Moonah Links, a run of form that Macpherson credits to the work he has done with former Aussie touring pro Brad Hughes for the past 18 months.
Frustrated by his putting and in a place where he was “scared to hit it”, Hughes has given Macpherson the basic framework that has taken him back to his days as a freewheeling teenager.
“When I was 15 I was this little arrogant s**t who would hit it hard, hit it kind of far and putt OK sometimes and I’d win stuff. And it feels like I’m back to that,” Macpherson said.
“And ‘Hugo’ has given me that, he really has. He is the reason why I have it and I’m so thankful for it.
“It’s very simple what we work on. It’s all about post-impact and ground connection, that’s all it is. The control that gives you is incredible.
“I can focus on the same thing for 72 holes – which I’ve never been able to do before – and be on the golf course hitting shots instead of making swings. That’s huge.
“My game right now is the best it’s ever been. If I can work over the next little while at tidying things up – because it still is a little untidy – then I would think there will be some more solid results in the pipeline.”
Warren finished outright second at 17 under followed by Hendry at 16 under and three players tied at 14 under, Dimi Papadatos, 54-hole co-leader John Lyras and Travis Smyth.