MELBOURNE, Australia – Despite no longer being on the PGA Tour, James Nitties is trying to stay relevant. Even if that means playing at home on the PGA Tour of Australasia, where he got a much-needed confidence boost this weekend.
Nitties posted a 3-under 69 Sunday to hold off Peter O’Malley at the Victorian PGA Championship at the Sandhurst Club in Melbourne.
O’Malley (68) led most of the day as Nitties stumbled with early bogeys. But a birdie by Nitties on No. 17 dampened O’Malley’s title hopes. O’Malley, needing a birdie to force a playoff, missed the green with his second shot on the par-4 18th and settled for par. Nitties finished the 54-hole tournament at 18-under 198, one ahead of O’Malley.
Andrew Buckle placed third at 13 under.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever played with (O’Malley), and everyone says he’s a horrendous putter, but he was great; he putted great, and he really strikes it,” Nitties said.
“It was getting to the end of the second round where I didn’t even need to watch where his tee shots went because he did not miss a fairway in days.”
With the win under his belt, Nitties said he will head this week to the United States and attempt some Monday qualifiers on the PGA Tour.
“Obviously it wasn’t the year I wanted last year, but I know it’s in me,” he said.
Nitties lost his Tour card after finishing 155th on the money list.
“A lot of people came up to me at the end of last year and told me ‘bad luck,’ and that’s not it at all,” the 28-year-old said. “It was all me, and I just didn’t get it done. So to produce here is such a good feeling.
“I need to prove myself to myself, so this is just one step in getting closer to that.”