The course was pure and the golf much the same as the Telstra Store Horsham Western Open played to rave reviews at the weekend.
The combined Golf Australia and PGA of Australia pro-am format, in its second year, was a smash hit with all involved, with the superb Wimmera course a perfect backdrop for some gripping golf.
It wasn't until the fifth hole of a pulsating playoff that James Marchesani, coming off some great results in China, saw off fellow Victorian Ben Murphy after two days of tense action had left them knotted at one under par.
Remarkably both withstood the playoff pressure for almost an hour before Marchesani secured the victory on the 18th green.
“It has been great to return to some form over the last few weeks, and I am happy to get the win here at Horsham,” Marchesani said.
“Everyone involved should be so proud. You have a wonderful golf course, great facilities and some of the best greens I have ever putted on.
“A big thank you must be extended to the Telstra Store Horsham, and the Horsham City Council for your wonderful support of the event. I look forward to returning next year.”
Players were treated to Sandbelt conditions at the magnificent Horsham layout, with the greens firm and fast and the wind ripping across the weekend.
Starting the day tied with Brady Watt and Murphy, Marchesani started slowly before a couple of late birdies gave him a three-shot lead entering the back nine.
Marchesani faltered slightly on the back nine, making three consecutive bogeys, but stood on the 18th tee still with a one-shot lead.
Ahead on the course but trailing by a shot, Murphy hit the best shot of his young career, a booming drive to within 4m on the 290m par-4 18th.
He calmly rolled in the eagle putt to find the outright lead.
Marchesani's tee shot found the greenside bunker and, with nerves of steel, he splashed out to 1.5m and converted the birdie putt to ensure the playoff.
The two exchanged pars on the first three playoff holes, with birdies halving the fourth.
Both players drove left on the fifth trip down 18, with James getting up and down to seal a memorable win.
In the concurrent Ivo Whitton event, Heidelberg’s Lachy Aylen saluted with consistent rounds of 74-71, good enough for T6 in the open event and five strokes clear of runner-up Harry Smiles.
“It was awesome to come here and test ourselves against the professionals to see where we are really at,” Aylen said.
“I’m happy with my result this week yet realise I have a lot of work to do in order to compete with the best.”
Rounding out the Susie Tolhurst event, Kim Kennedy claimed a two-stroke victory over Monica Marchesani.
Therese Magdulski, Golf Australia Victorian golf operations and state manager was delighted with the combined format.
“The event is a wonderful opportunity for amateurs to gauge their playing standard to that of the pros,” she said.
“Horsham Golf Club had great support from the local council for the event – and it is a great way to showcase regional Victoria.
“It is also a great way for Golf Australia and the PGA of Australia to work closely together.”
A similar event will follow at Shepparton Golf Club in December.