26 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |

Coletta's fast finish wins TPS Hunter

by Australian Golf Media

Brett Coletta trophy image
Brett Coletta celebrates at Cypress Lakes today.

By Tony Webeck at Cypress Lakes

Victorian Brett Coletta has delivered a course record round of nine-under 61 to win TPS Hunter Valley at Cypress Lakes Resort at the fourth playoff hole. After making the cut on the number, Coletta was eight strokes off the lead when he teed off at 9.17am, three hours and 17 minutes prior to the final group of Lincoln Tighe and Jack Munro. Three hours and 41 minutes after signing for his nine-under 61, Coletta was headed back to the 18th tee for a playoff against Lincoln Tighe. The pair both had birdie chances on the first three visits back down 18 before a wayward tee shot that saw his ball finish alongside a tree left of the fairway put Tighe on the back foot. Coletta safely found the left side of the green with his approach and after punching out to the rough, Tighe had a snaking putt of some 20 feet to make par. That burned the edge of the hole to give Coletta two putts for victory, his first since the 2016 Queensland Open. Playing on invites for the majority of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season, Coletta now has a winner’s category for the next two years and direct entry into next week’s New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort.

His nine-under 61 bettered Blake Windred’s previous course record of eight-under 64 and gave him an anxious wait all afternoon. “I’m going to be honest, you’re just waiting for that blowout,” Coletta said of trying to keep a hot round going. “You’re just holding on, especially on this back nine. Nine’s a tough shot today with that wind off the right and then you just hold on through 10, 11, 12, even 13 today into the wind. Fourteen for that matter and 15! You’re just holding on for those five or six holes and you get a couple of nice ones to finish off. “I played super solid all day. I impressed myself, honestly.” A birdie at the par-3 fifth was a small taste of what was to come, Coletta making consecutive eagles at six and seven to roar into contention. In the difficult stretch around the turn, he added birdies at 11 and 13 and when he holed a two-footer for birdie on 16 Coletta had a share of the lead. Despite the temptation of trying to drive the green Coletta hit 4-iron, wedge to make birdie on 17 and take the lead, narrowly missing his birdie attempt on 18 to post 11-under. Before he could make any forward progress on his overnight score of 10-under, Tighe had been supplanted on top spot on the leaderboard. Tighe joined Coletta at 11-under with a birdie at the par-5 sixth and then moved one clear after driving the 310-metre par-4 seventh with an iron and getting up-and-down for birdie. Shortly after Munro made birdie on 10 to reach 11-under Tighe made a birdie of his own from inside two feet to move out to a two-stroke lead, but drama lay in wait. A three-putt on 11 reduced his advantage to one and he dropped to a tie for the lead with one of the most extraordinary bogeys ever made in Australian golf. The fourth-hardest hole on the course the first three rounds, Tighe’s tee shot on the par-4 12th found the penalty area-defined bush left of the fairway. After much deliberation he swung mightily through the forest, only to hit it into even deeper bushland down towards the green. Rather than finding some sort of relief, Tighe once again leveraged his enormous frame to muscle his ball to the front of the green, holing a six-footer to drop just a single shot and keep his championship hopes alive. “That’s the strangest bogey I’ve ever seen,” Mark Allen declared in commentary on Fox Sports. Coletta was watching it all unfold on his phone in the comfort of the players’ lounge, sitting up a little straighter when Tighe three-putted for bogey on 14 and Munro dropped a shot on 15 to regain the outright lead. Both players in the final group made birdie at the par-5 16th to rejoin Coletta at 11-under but Munro dropped a shot on 17 and was cruelly denied a birdie on the final hole. Tighe left his birdie putt on 17 an inch short and then made par on 18 to send the tournament to extra holes for the second year running. Hervey Bay PGA Associate Lachlan Wood added to his Vic Open Inclusive Championship victory with a five-stroke win over Cameron Pollard in the All Abilities Players Series Hunter Valley. Wood had rounds of 74-79 to win his first Players Series event, Pollard’s consolation a Webex grant as the overall winner of the Webex Players Series. In the Junior Players Series Hunter Valley, New South Wales Golf Club’s Ann Jang won by four strokes from Grafton’s Hollie Fuller with Brodie Herring and Desiree Herden sharing third spot.

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