After starting the final round on the Beach Course at 13th Beach Golf Links two shots from the lead, Coletta fired a sensational 7-under-par 65 to claim his third Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia title and move to second place on this year’s Order of Merit.
Zunic, who ended up two shots in arrears following a 67 to be -16 overall, went birdie for birdie for Coletta – the duo combining for 11 birdies and an eagle overall for the day.
Victorian Andrew Martin (68) charged late with four birdies in his last five holes to match Zunic in a share of second.
On an enthralling final nine, playing partners Coletta and Zunic were level with four holes remaining before the 27-year-old Victorian moved clear by picking up shots on the par-4 15th and 16th holes, sealing the deal with a purely struck fairway wood onto the green on the final hole.
From the Sandhurst Club in Melbourne’s south, Coletta came into this week with three top-10s on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia this season to be 20th on the Order of Merit, but he can now seriously eye off the huge career rewards which come with a top-three finish at the end of the campaign.
“This was an 18-hole duel. Fortunately it was my day today,” said the new champion, who admitted he was nervous last night thinking how about important this Sunday was to his professional career.
“This is pretty big. I’m pretty emotional inside.
“I know I’m able to win out here in the smaller events, the tier twos I suppose. The next level is to really up your game and win these bigger ones.
“Hopefully I can continue the trend and roll the dice at the bigger events, the PGA and the Australian Open.
“This was one of those times when it was my time I guess.”
Despite missing out on his first Tour title since 2018, Zunic was happy with his week, which continued a fine run of form including securing his Asian Tour card for 2024.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that position. It was really enjoyable all day,” Zunic said.
“I played well, but Brett just played better and holed a few more putts down the end there.
“I had my chances and unfortunately they just didn’t go for me.”
In a men’s tournament which featured a packed leaderboard all week it was no surprise that five players were within one shot of the lead going into the back nine on Sunday.
One of those was Queensland’s Jed Morgan who found the spark he’s been waiting some months to discover, shooting an 8-under-par 64 to end up at 14-under for the tournament, in a share of fourth with Travis Smyth (66).
Morgan revealed he started to have thoughts about the way he charged to his runaway victory at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland in 2022 when the birdies kept flowing on the back nine.
“That round has been coming for a little while, probably a little over six months,” Morgan said.
“I’ve been working on some things. That’s one round in the books.
“It was nice to be in that environment again and in that position. I saw on 15 tee that I was only one back and made birdie there.
“It was cool to keep pushing because I haven’t had the opportunity to do that for a little while.”
Morgan is hoping the Sunday surge will spark a good start to his 2024 Asian Tour campaign which begins at the Malaysian Open later this month.
Chasing his third consecutive Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia victory to match a feat last achieved by Robert Allenby in 2005, Kazuma Kobori finished in a share of 10th after a final round of 66, his best for the week.
He threatened to go very low after opening with four birdies in his first six holes.
“I played nicely. It’s starting to come together, more than the first three days anyway,” Kobori said.
“Very good vibes going into next week (at Webex Players Series Sydney).”
After starting with back-to-back birdies, joint overnight leader Nick Voke’s challenge was brought undone by a triple-bogey at the par-5 fifth.
He eventually shared sixth with Kade McBride (72), former champion Richard Green (68) and 18-year-old Queensland Amateur champion Billy Dowling (66).
Article courtesy of pga.org.au