Victoria’s James Marchesani holed a pressure-packed six-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win his first professional title at the PGA Tour-China’s Clearwater Bay Open.
Against a South China Sea backdrop, Marchesani, who started the day in a share of the lead at four-under, carded a three under 67 to reach seven under 273 and defeat playing partner Callum Tarren, of England, by one stroke.
Canadian Eugene Wong (66) was third at four under, while Queensland’s Chris Wood and Kiwi Fraser Wilkin shared fourth place at three under.
The final round, however, belonged to Marchesani, who spent much of the day trailing Tarren. The round truly became a battle of two 27-year-olds looking for their breakthrough wins as pros, with the Victorian snaring an eagle on the par-5 15th and a birdie on the par-5 18th to claim the win.
“I feel pretty good for a pretty good reason because the trophy’s mine. It’s been a long week but a very good one, and I’m very pleased to notch that first win,” said Marchesani, who tied for second at the Fiji International in August.
“I’ve had a couple of close looks at other tournaments, but the game was feeling good coming into this week, and now I’ve come to the top. It was a good battle on the back, and Callum certainly pushed me to get that win.”
Marchesani’s looks have—he admitted—have drawn several comparisons to tennis star Lleyton Hewitt.
“I hear that all the time,” and Marchesani showed similar grit to the Aussie tennis legend by clawing back four strokes on the back nine.
Marchesani, who played four years of college golf at Oklahoma City University, made two birdies and four bogies—including three-in-a-row from the 5th hole—on the front nine to drop to two under and four shots behind Tarren.
However, the gap closed to two at the 10th as Marchesani holed an 18-foot birdie putt and Tarren three-putted for a bogey. Marchesani then hit his tee shot on the par-3 14th to six feet and made another birdie before drawing even with an eagle on 15, as Tarren birdied.
“I knew that I’d played the back nine well all week and that if I kept hitting some good shots, there were birdies out there,” said Marchesani, making his PGA Tour-China debut.
“I made a really good putt on 10, and that got the confidence up again. I probably hit my best drive of the week down 15 and only had a short iron in then had six or seven feet for eagle. Callum made a great putt for birdie there to let me know he was still around,” Marchesani said.
The pair was tied going to 18, where Tarren pushed his drive right and was unable to reach the green in two. Marchesani finished just left of the green with his second, chipped to six feet and then coolly sank the birdie putt for the US$42,000 winner’s cheque.
“The putt felt longer than it looked. It’s always a little bit harder when you know what’s on the line,” Marchesani said.
“I was pretty pleased with the chip I hit down the hill to six feet, which became a lot further once I knew what the putt would actually mean. I took a few extra deep breaths, stepped up there, hit it on the line and she went in. It’s always good to know what a putt’s worth.”
Marchesani is the event’s second successive Australian winner. He said a few tips from inaugural champion Daniel Nisbet may have helped—and he may even follow his compatriot’s lead in playing across two tours after his victory earned him full membership on next year’s PGA Tour-China.
“I played behind Dan in the pro-am, and when we stopped between holes, we went back and forth with a few ideas about where to hit it, where not to hit it. It was good to get a couple of tips. Hopefully I’ll come back next year and defend or another Aussie might pip me,” Marchesani added.
“It’s still pretty early to decide,” Marchesani added, “but PGA Tour-China plays mid-year, which is the gap for our Australasia Tour so it should work in pretty well. I can play on both and swing back and forth and play a full schedule for the entire year.”