27 Jan 2023 | Professional golf |
Marchesani goes low, dreams of hometown triumph at #TPSVic
by Martin Blake
Popular local star James Marchesani kept his head and shot a second-round 65 to move into the outright lead at the TPS Victoria event at his home club Rosebud Country Club today.
Tied in the lead through round one at 8-under, the 32-year-old multiple club champion at this layout rattled home the back nine in 32 to get out in front on his own, admitting that sleeping in his own bed at home in Rosebud and having his family around him has agreed with him.
“It’s been fun, and the golf’s been good, which is another bonus,” said Marchesani, a six-year PGA Professional who has had a tough past 12 months, missing out on playing rights in Asia and Europe.
Marchesani leads by a shot from Queenslander Jake McLeod (66 today), who got hot on the back nine as well shooting 7-under.
But it is a packed leaderboard, with New South Welshman Jordan Zunic, Victorian teaching professional Grace Lennon and Melbourne pro David Micheluzzi at 10-under, just four from the lead.
The legendary Karrie Webb remains in contention in a group at 9-under overall after a 68 today in beautiful conditions, notwithstanding the annoyance of a three-putt at the last hole.
The scoring was not quite so low, although Sydney’s John Lyras made three separate runs of three consecutive birdies in his 62, the day’s low round.
Marchesani made eight birdies mixed with two bogeys on the day, pulling along with him the biggest gallery of anyone in the field owing to the presence of many friends and Rosebud members.
He had a putt from inside 10 feet for birdie at the last and a 64 to go with his opening 63, but it slid by the hole.
Afterwards, the Victorian conceded that thoughts of winning a tournament at home – it would be his first tier-one victory on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia – would surely enter his mind.
“I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t. But yes, try and treat it like any other day out here. I’m feeling very relaxed in front of family and friends which I think’s been a big help, and it’s good to see a lot of the members coming out and supporting me too. I’m expecting a good crowd tomorrow, I reckon.”
His closest pursuer is the 28-year-old McLeod, who said he’d been in “no man’s land” on the front nine before his putter kicked into gear on the back side. Five birdies and a second, straight eagle at the par-5 16th hole put him into the final group for Saturday. “I got back to some of those feels I was working on yesterday and I just putted well on the back side,” he said. “Pretty much holed everything.”
Melburnian Lennon’s appearance near the top of the leaderboard has been another highlight this week.
A contemporary of LPGA Tour players Minjee Lee, Su Oh and Hannah Green, she struggled as a touring professional and opted to teach. Ironically, it was some of her own advice to amateurs that she followed over the past two days.
“It’s been obviously a little while since I’ve played some big tournaments, but it’s great, I’m enjoying it, I’m trying to take a lot of my own information I pass on to my students. I’m trying to keep things simple out on the course, not overthink this which is one of the principles that I try to teach my students.”
The 31-year-old Lennon is comfortable holding her day job, although on the evidence of the past two days she might have to reconsider. “I love playing golf, but I also love the stability of working at the driving range and stuff like that,” she said. “If I keep shooting 66s I might have some decisions to make!”
Among those to miss the halfway cut re tournament host Geoff Ogilvy (70-71), defending champion Todd Sinnott (73-69) and Queensland star Anthony Quayle (70-72).
Sixteen elite juniors will join the field for their own 36-hole event from Saturday, with one player joining two open-age players in each of the last 16 groups as part of the tournament’s commitment to put golfers of all genres together in the same space.
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