Date: November 16, 2017
Author: Roy Fleming

Coletta rediscovers his magic


Wonder Boy: Schoolkid seizes the moment

Lunch lead: Dan's the man with birdies on tap

Course Whisperer: Graham Marsh's tips to tame Twin Creeks

Graham Marsh knows every blade of grass on the course he built from scratch at Twin Creeks, and he foresaw what might happen today if the breeze and thunderbolts stayed at sea rather than venture inland to downtown Penrith, site of this year’s NSW Open.

Earlier this week Marsh warned players they’d need to find fairways on the par fives to gather birdies on this challenging layout. And that the wind and weather, which defied forecasts to remain calm and clear for most of the day, would be problematic if they eventually turned up.

They didn’t.

So, it rained birdies. It rained and rained and rained.

Marsh also warned that “there’s a lot of pins that can be tucked away on those greens. They can be hidden”. He was right, of course.

The pin on 18 was gnarly, but still gave up birdies – including one to eventual equal clubhouse leader Daniel Nesbit.

Nesbit played with the confidence of a man who feels comfortable with a course he has played many times.

Except he hasn’t.

He only laid eyes on Marsh’s masterpiece for the first time on Tuesday. But he liked what he saw; fast greens with a clean canvas. Eight birdies later, he’d compiled one of his best rounds of the year, a flawless 64.

The greens, he said “could firm up some more”, which is code for quicker and more dangerous.

Storm clouds built up on the horizon throughout the day, and the forecast showers arrived later than expected.

It was a nice reprieve from the humidity, if not a surprise when it eventually arrived.

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Another surprise was the form of Brett Coletta who stamped his return to competitive golf with a brilliant eight-under 64 in the afternoon conditions.

Coletta, who admitted to taking time out from August until his competitive return here at Twin Creeks, said his extended break from the game was to manage his physical and mental health in the wake of his much-hyped professional debut back in March 2017.

 “It’s been a big 18 months, it’s been a big 24 months to be honest,” the 21-year-old said, having posted the equal clubhouse lead along with West Australian Jason Scrivener and Queenslander Daniel Nesbit.

“I just needed time. I know what I needed for myself, and so I just took the time I needed,” he said, referring to a busy past 12 months which included starts in US PGA Tour events and on the Canadian tour.

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Compatriot Scrivener matched Coletta’s eight-under with a flawless round of his own that he put down to finally being back home. The 28-year-old has competed on the European Tour the past two seasons and has decided to base himself in London next year to limit his extensive travel.

The West Australian relished the firm and true greens at Twin Creeks.

“These are the best greens I’ve played on all year. We don’t get the chance to putt on greens this good in Europe. It’s an absolute treat,” he said.

Asked where the course gives up its birdies, Scrivener said it was through his wedge game.

“The fairways are fairly generous, the par fives are quite reachable, so you can give yourself a lot of wedges and iron shots,” he said. “If you are playing well, there’s a score out there.”

Add to this the wonderful -7 by amateur Min Woo Lee – which was matched  late in the day by local amateur Joshua Gadd playing in the last group, as well as Victorian Tom Power Horan's six-under 66, and in the washup, the leaderboard finished with a very a youthful look about it.

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But there’s some experience lurking near the leaders. Former US PGA winner Nathan Green posted a -5 which combined some luck with his excellent short game. A long-range bunker shot he holed for eagle on nine he actually didn’t intend to hole.

“He wanted to find the ridge and get it up there,” said his young caddie, later.

“But it just came out clean and it spun really hard.”

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Earlier, Wollongong rookie Thomas Heaton holed his tee shot on the par-three second, only minutes into the first round of his debut professional tournament.

The prodigiously-talented school student struck a perfect nine-iron to record his first hole-in-one, in a tier-one PGA Tour event and third of his golfing life.

The rookie has been in the spotlight the past fortnight, firstly for becoming the youngest ever senior club champion at The Australian Golf Club, and also for his heroic five-man playoff win in NSW qualifying to grab his spot in the open.

He finished the day one-under in a quality opening performance here at Twin Creeks.



-8 D Nisbet
-8 J Scrivener
-8 B Coletta
-7 M Lee (AM)
-7 J Gadd (AM)
-6 A Townsend
-6 T Power Horan
-6 K Hickok
-6 J Felton
-6 L Herbert
-5 N Green
-5 A Price
-5 M Sim
-5 N Flanagan
-5 R Chisnall (AM)
-5 J Arnold