By Martin Blake
The TPS Victoria tournament appears to be James Marchesani’s to win or lose at Rosebud Country Club after the Victorian conjured a third, straight brilliant round today to take a four-shot lead into the final round.
Marchesani’s love and familiarity with his home club has never been more evident; he followed up his 63-65 with a 64 on Saturday despite dramas at the par-4 18th hole that threatened to derail him.
Ultimately he made a superb up-and-down from 50 metres for a bogey having flared his tee shot up against a boundary fence and then “fatted” his second shot in an attempt to chip out sideways.
The 32-year-old seized full control of the tournament when he went birdie-eagle-birdie between the 15th and 17th holes to sprint out to a four-shot lead.
At 21-under Marchesani likely only needs to shoot a couple under par on Sunday to close out his first significant win in his home country, and his first top-tier win as a professional since the Clearwater Bay Open on the PGA China Tour in 2017.
McLeod is at 17 under after a 67 in Round 3 and again will play in the final group.
Sydney pro John Lyras and South Korean Min A Yoon at 16-under are the next in line, while 18-year-old Queensland amateur Justice Bosio is at 15-under and also in contention after she broke the women’s course record with a 62 that included nine birdies.
There are three women in the top eight with Queensland-based Sarah Jane Smith shooting a 63 today.
Marchesani, a three-time Rosebud club champion, said he would sleep soundly at the family home despite not being able to recall going wire-to-wire in a tournament before.
“It’s a nice feeling,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty comfortable out here, I’m seeing golf shots that I’ve obviously known for a long time which is very nice.”
He admitted that he considered taking a penalty drop on the 18th hole before his failed attempt to chip out.
“It’s pretty sandy, and I thought if I took a drop it might plug as well,” he said. “Then having to play back over the ‘OB’ (out of bounds) wasn’t really fancy. I figured if I got enough club on it I’d end up punching it out but I ended up fatting it. But I came out with a five and I was happy with that finish.”
The tournament has been a superb advertisement for its own inclusive principles and this was exemplified by the teenage Bosio’s mid-afternoon charge.
She had friend and professional Stephanie Na caddying and the moral support was important as she continues to show that she has a big future.
“She was helpful, good company, good to keep my mind calm especially when I got down to the last two holes. I was a little bit nervous,” admitted Bosio, who will contest the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.
New South Welshman Cam Pollard leads the All Abilities tournament at six-over 77, closing it out with a superb wedge shot and tap-in birdie at the 18th.
“I couldn’t get many putts today, so I needed to hit it that close,” said Pollard, who is Australia’s top-ranked All Abilities player.
“Getting to play the same conditions, it’s pretty different to the other tournaments we get to play, so it’s something else,” said Pollard.
He is six shots ahead of second-placed Mike Rolls from Victoria.
In the 16-player junior tournament which began on Saturday, 17-year-old Jazy Roberts from Belvoir Park Golf Club in Bendigo was brilliant with a two-under 69 to take a one-shot lead.
Roberts recently won the Tasmanian Junior Amateur and was picked to represent Australia in the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific championship.
“I hit it pretty good,” she said. “The first green I missed was the 17th and I only missed two fairways.”
She will be in the last group again on Sunday with Marchesani and McLeod, teeing off at 12.50pm at Rosebud.
Sunday’s final round is live on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports from 12.30pm AEDT.
Click here for Round 3 scores.