26 Jan 2023 | Professional golf |

Marchesani's thunder clap at #TPSVic

by Martin Blake

James Marchesani r1 image
James Marchesani tees off at 8 on his way to a 63 today.

Hometown favourite James Marchesani sent a roar all around the Rosebud Country Club today as a rare albatross – the first of his career – vaulted him to a share of the lead at the TPS Victoria event.

Marchesani’s 3-iron shot from 205 metres around the corner at the par-5 seventh hole (the ninth for members in the usual rota), bounced up on the green and he knew that it was good.

But the 32-year-old Victorian did not see it bury into the hole because the hole dog-legs to the left, and his view was blocked by trees. Soon enough, though, the message came through. He always has a gallery with him at Rosebud where he and his entire family have played for some years, and they let him know.

“I hit 3-iron straight at it, I was obviously happy with the shot, but with the bunkers covering that front of the green I had no idea where it finished,” he said. “But I had a few family members come running out of the trees yelling it was in.”

Marchesani has had many low rounds at Rosebud (10-under is his best) but no albatrosses before, nor any hole-in-ones. “I went straight to the big bird,” he said afterward. “I’ve been close a couple of times, many of us probably have, but it’s nice to finally make one.”

Marchesani is at 8-under after his 63 today, tied with Queenslanders Jack Munro and Jake McLeod at the top on a day when the scoring was low and you needed red numbers to compete.

They are a shot ahead of New South Welshmen Nathan Barbieri, Lincoln Tighe and Jordan Zunic, who all shot 7-under 64s today.

A shot farther back the group at 6-under was joined by veteran Karrie Webb, who turned back the clock with “my best round in I don’t remember how long”, a 65 that included a hole-out with a wedge for eagle at the par-4 6th hole.

In keeping with the inclusive concept of the even there are three women in the top echelon one of whom is an amateur – 18-year-old Queenslander Justice Bosio (67), who played in the same group as Geoff Ogilvy and Webb and did a wonderful job of calming her nerves, Victorian teaching pro Grace Lennon (66) and Webb herself.

But the day belonged in many ways to Marchesani, who has had a rough past 12 months, missing out on tour cards in Europe and Asia.

Back at home and enjoying his mother’s lasagne, Marchesani found peace on the course where his entire family has played for many years, although he insists this is not always the case.

“It works both ways. Obviously I know the course, I’ve played here for over 20 years, I know the ins and outs. But it can go the other way where you know that putts break and where putts don’t, and you get frustrated. It’s just nice to be at home for a week to start the second half of the season.”

McLeod’s 8-under 63 also came somewhat out of the blue after some poor form and tinkering with his swing. The Queenslander made two eagles – one at the seventh when his 5-iron second shot stopped five feet from the flag, and at the 16th where his approach with the same club was also close – which plainly helped.

The 28-year-old spent a couple of years playing in Europe but has lost his playing rights there, and he is planning a holiday at the end of this season on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.

“I went up (to Europe) for a couple of trips last year, played pretty average, and I was supposed to go back for a third one but I don’t know, all the travel was getting to me,” he said. “I wasn’t enjoying it too much. I love playing and whatnot but it was getting a bit too much.

“I just want to go to a beach somewhere, chill at a beach, have couple of cocktails and fix these tan lines.”

Munro's 63 came late in a day when he solved recent putting woes with a long putter he put in the bag.

"I've been in fairyland the last few weeks," he said. "I wasn't even sure I was actually going to play. I rolled a good putt on the first hole and I just started laughing. Stuff like this always happens in golf, when you think you're going to check out it throws up rounds like that."

The other highlight was Webb’s brilliant form at her first appearance in a Webex Players Series event.

Other than golf she had two motivations for coming this week – first she loves the Mornington Peninsula and second, she was able to put her 15-year-old niece Kyla Cursio on the bag having taken a week off school and flown down from the Townsville area with her aunt.

“That for me is a great experience,” Webb said. “I didn’t think I’d still be playing tournament golf when she was old enough to caddie.”


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