The 26-year-old Victorian has clinched the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour Order of Merit with his two-shot win in the $400,000 tournament, more than 400 points clear at the top with just one tournament remaining next week.
He has previously won the WA PGA Championship and the TPS Sydney tournaments, and he looks ready to take on the world.
It is the first three-win season on the Australasian Tour since Robert Allenby’s famous 2005 triple crown.
A former world top-five amateur, Micheluzzi will get that opportunity soon; his Order of Merit victory will give him a start in the 2023 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, and top-three on the OOM gives him a ticket to play on the DP World Tour from the start of the 2023-24 season.
Micheluzzi grabbed the Kel Nagle Cup and a $72,000 prize cheque with a dazzling 65, coming from five shots back, and at 20-under he won by two from Kade McBride, the Queenslander who led into the final round.
“It feels pretty awesome. I hit it awesome, didn’t putt my best but gave myself enough chances, and I’m stoked to be here … I wouldn’t mind some KFC, I wouldn’t mind some Coke.” – David Micheluzzi.
New South Welshmen Lincoln Tighe (63 today), Dylan Perry and Nathan Barbieri were tied-third at 17-under-par.
It was quite a day for the Melburnian who grew up playing junior golf at Cranbourne Golf Club in Melbourne’s southern suburbs, and quite a day for McBride, the Queenslander who took a three-shot lead into the final round but watched it disappear and then had the championship wrenched away from him at the 72nd hole.
McBride was steady for most of the day and four shots ahead early in the final round, but by the time he reached the 18th tee, the reachable par-5, he was tied with Micheluzzi at 20-under, the Victorian watching from the scorers’ enclosure and waiting.
A birdie at 18 would give the Gold Coast professional the win, and par would force a play-off with Micheluzzi.
But the 28-year-old had to lay up short of the green after his drive went slightly left, and his wedge from 100 metres out caught the collar of a greenside bunker by a factor of centimetres. From there, he blasted out beyond the flag, made double bogey, and had to sign for a one-over-par 72 and second place.
“It just missed by a ‘smidge’,” said McBride. “And in that bunker is as dead as dead gets.”
Over in the scorers’ area, Micheluzzi emerged to be drenched with sports drinks by the likes of friend and defending champion Harrison Crowe. His parents Frank and Claudia had driven up from Melbourne to witness the final day’s play, and they were on the scene soon as well.
His round had been ignited by a chip-in from the fringe of the par-4 9th, but he played brilliant golf overall, calling it “the best tournament I’ve ever played tee-to-green”. Further birdies at 10, 11 and from close range at the 17th put the pressure on McBride that he needed to create.
“It feels pretty awesome,” said Micheluzzi. “I hit it awesome, didn’t putt my best but gave myself enough chances, and I’m stoked to be here.”
The Victorian intends playing the final tournament of the season at The National in Victoria from next Thursday before a break.
But today it was time for celebrations. “I wouldn’t mind some KFC, I wouldn’t mind some Coke,” he said. “I might watch the F1 qualifying. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but KFC is on my mind.”
The Open Championship in July will be his first appearance in a major. “It’s amazing to be playing the first major at the Open,” he said. “It’s the best major in my opinion and to be at Hoylake will be so exciting. It’s going to be a fun week.”
McBride has not won on the primary Tour and he will take a lot from this week. After his final-hole issues, he was still able to speak to media.
“I’m alright with it. I was playing to win,” he said.
Rich River was a genial host and the NSW Open moves along the river to beautiful Murray Downs next year, under an announcement by the Deputy Premier of NSW, Paul Toole, today.
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