John Salvado (AAP)
Long touted as the next big thing in Australian golf and several years after missing out on a PGA Tour card and then getting stuck in the US, Brett Coletta has delivered on that promise by winning the Vic Open.
The 27-year-old Victorian stormed home with a seven-under 65 including an eagle and six birdies at Thirteenth Beach on Sunday to claim the biggest title of his career by two shots.
Coletta finished at 18-under 270, two shots clear of playing partner Jordan Zunic (67) and fellow Australian Andrew Martin, who birdied the last for a 68.
The key moment of the final day came on the 16th green, where Coletta drained a long birdie putt and Zunic missed his birdie attempt from much closer in, allowing the Victorian to double his lead to two strokes.
After an impressive amateur career, the likes of Greg Norman and Robert Allenby predicted a huge future for Coletta.
He had some good results on the secondary tour in the US and went close to earning a PGA Tour card in 2020, before suffering from homesickness after being unable to return to Australia due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“I finished 27th (on the US secondary tour money list) in the regular season and then I made a meal of the play-offs,” said an emotional Coletta.
“So close, but not close really.
“I feel like I’m a different person now.
“I was only 23 at the time, so definitely some sort of maturing goes on in that time, and COVID probably exacerbates that as well.
“I was stuck over there and I couldn’t get back home. It was just a brutal time.”
The victory and prize money of $75,600 lifted Coletta to second place on the Australasian Tour Order of Merit behind Min Woo Lee.
Jed Morgan had the low round of the day, an eight-under 64, to vault up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth at 14-under with fellow Australian Travis Smyth (66).
It has been a topsy-turvy time for the Queenslander since he streeted the field to win the Australian PGA by a record 11 shots in late 2022.
Morgan played on the LIV Tour last year, but lost his card and will now ply his trade on the Asian Tour in 2024, starting with the Malaysian Open in a fortnight.
“The form has been pretty good all week,” said the 24-year-old.
“It’s a round that’s been coming for a little while, probably for over six months.
“… Ever since the Royal Queensland (Australian PGA) win it’s been a whirlwind, some ups and then some downs, plenty of downs.
“But the whole LIV experience was amazing.
“I was fortunate to be there and I embraced it.”