Date: February 08, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Coletta a Pebble throw from glory

A US PGA Tour debut has the power to daunt even the most savvy of prodigies.

But it’s a testament to the mindset of Melbourne’s Brett Coletta that he’s arrived at one of the world’s most famous golfing venues this week ready to rock, not spectate.

The 20-year-old made his professional debut at the Singapore Open in mid-January after a stellar finale to his amateur career with victory in October’s Queensland Open and a runner-up finish at the subsequent New South Wales Open, both against fields of seasoned pros on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia.

Coletta made the cut at Sentosa and while he only banked a small cheque, it bought him the mental freedom to stand at Pebble Beach having been there before.

“I didn’t think I’d be too nervous in Singapore, but when they announce your name on the first tee and say `making his professional debut’, it was pretty nerve-wracking,” Coletta said from California today.

“But now I’m really glad I’ve done that and can just focus on my golf this week.”

The Golf Australia rookie squad member knows his first step on to world golf’s biggest stage won’t come easily this week, but he’s now confident that he won’t trip over his lines, either.

“Of course it’s going to be interesting first time up, but I feel much better about it already.

“I feel like my game belongs out here, that I’ve done what I need to be able to stand here and compete, so hopefully things just settle down quickly and my scores reflect that.”

Coletta, in the same Wasserman stable as Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Cam Smith, is hopeful the influence of his illustrious Aussie colleagues will yield him up to seven US PGA Tour starts on sponsors’ invitations.

But he knows, too, that he has the game to earn his way to more starts en route to his goal of a full PGA Tour card from next year and beyond.

“I don’t know why, but I feel like my game is suited over here and I’m really looking forward to playing some of these courses,” the Victorian said.

“But we’ve had a heap of rain here this week and I haven’t even got out on Pebble Beach yet to have a hit.

“I’ve seen Spyglass and Monterey, but there was just too much rain today to get out there on Pebble this afternoon. I hope I can tomorrow because I don’t want to be playing it blind when we get going.”

Coletta said he had taken a particular shine to Monterey Peninsula course.

“Everyone talks about Spyglass and it’s very cool, probably a course to hang on a bit especially if the conditions get hard.

“But I really like Monterey and the way it’s laid out really suits my eye. You hear a lot about the other two courses, but I think that’s my favourite of the three, actually.”

Coletta won’t find out his amateur partner for the revered annual event until Wednesday evening (American time).

He’ll be joined in the field by Day, Smith and fellow Australians Matt Jones, John Senden, Rod Pampling, Stuart Appleby, Cameron Percy, Greg Chalmers, Steven Bowditch and Brett Drewitt.