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Brilliant Presnell snatches Vic PGA

(Photo: Anthony Powter)
Alistair Presnell is the 2010 Cellarbrations Victorian PGA Champion following a final round of 60 at Sandhurst Club near Frankston south of Melbourne.

Presnell's round equals the lowest ever in Australasian Tour history, the only others to record such a feat being Ernie Els en route to his Heineken Classic victory at Royal Melbourne in 2002 and Paul Gow during the 2001 Canon Challenge at Castle Hill.

NSW's Brad McIntosh has the honour of the lowest round in tournament golf in Australia but that (59) was in a then Von Nida Tour event in 2005.

The 30 year old Victorian began the final round 6 shots behind joint overnight leaders, David Bransdon and Kurt Barnes, but an outward nine of 29 had him within two of Bransdon and tied in a share of second with Barnes.

Presnell's onslaught of the North Course at Sandhurst continued when he birdied the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th and by then he had moved one ahead of Bransdon. He was at 11 under for the day and, given the momentum he had built, a round of 59 was becoming increasingly likely. He saved a good par at the 15th and made a regulation par at the 16th, his last chance for the much sought after round of 59 being lost when he missed a five foot birdie chance at the 17th.

Presnell was able to put that behind him however when he produced a superb four iron to 10 feet at the final hole for one last birdie and his round of 60 would be enough to win the event an hour later.

Back on the golf course Bransdon had almost hold his tee shot at the 13th and moved to 22 under par but the Victorian was unable to secure the one extra birdie he needed to move ahead and when he misjudged his approach to the last he could not save par and his chance had gone.

Early on, Barnes appeared to be the one to beat when he hit his approach at the very first hole to two feet and moved ahead of his joint overnight leader, Bransdon. He struggled to the turn however and by then had fallen three behind Bransdon and Presnell.

Barnes fought his way back however with some fine putting over the closing stages of the round. When he birdied the 17th he had joined Presnell and Bransdon in the lead at 22 under but a wild tee shot in the strengthening wind at the final hole cost him a bogey and he shared second with Bransdon.

Paul Marantz's final round of 65 may have paled in comparison to that of Presnell's but it was impressive nonetheless and he finished alone in 4th position while Steven Bowditch finished 5th. 

Twelve months ago Presnell won the Moonah Classic and gained access to the Nationwide Tour. He remained in contention all year for a PGA Tour card via the Nationwide Tour but narrowly missed out on one of the 25 cards to the big-time, eventually finishing an agonising 28th

With that experience behind him and this confidence boost as he heads back to the US, his chances of successfully securing one of the PGA Tour cards later in the season appear very good.

His first event will be the Panama Claro Championship starting on February 25th but importantly he has earned a start at the World Golf Championship event at Doral in March providing further experience in events at that level.

Anyone capable of doing what Presnell did yesterday has a game that is capable of achieving at an even higher level.

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