Alex Chiarella proved this week at the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open that all it takes is to get hot at the right time, and hot might be an understatement for how the 25-year old performed.
After missing his first three cuts of the season, Chiarella pieced together rounds of 64-67-65-68, tapping in a par putt on hole No. 18 to pick up his first-career Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada victory by one stroke over Travis Trace.
“When Travis (Trace) missed his eagle putt (on No. 18), I knew I had to 2-putt from 10 feet, so I lagged it up there nice and close and tapped it in and was overwhelmed with emotion,” said Chiarella, who now holds the third-place spot on the Order of Merit. “To not made a cut and then for everything to just work out like this, it’s incredible.”
Entering the day with a two-stroke advantage over Trace and Justin Doeden, the Makawao, Hawaii native showed no nerves, making two birdies in his first three holes to give himself a bit of a cushion.
However, as had been the case for much of the week in Lethbridge, the skies opened up when the final group was on hole No. 9. Travis Trace poured in a 12-footer for birdie and, with Chiarella looking over a 5-foot par look, play was suspended for what would last close to two hours.
Following the delay, Chiarella was unable to convert, matching him with Trace.
“It was all about patience, that was my one word to myself this week,” said Chiarella. “I kept telling myself, ‘patience’, on the golf course and during the rain delays, ‘patience.’”
Along with Chiarella and Trace, Justin Doeden, and Lorens Chan also held a share of the lead for a time on the back nine on Sunday, but the defining moment of the tournament came from Chiarella on No. 17, Paradise Canyon Golf Resort’s longest par-3.
“I missed a short birdie putt on hole No. 16 to get one in front, but I hit a really good tee shot on No. 17 from 230-yards out,” said the University of San Diego alum. “It was a little into the wind and I hit a draw 5-iron onto the back-right fringe.”
From 20-feet, Chiarella buried his look, suddenly giving him a two-stroke lead due to a Doeden bogey.
“When that putt went in, that felt great,” said Chiarella. “That was a huge key moment.”
Attempting to control his emotions on the final hole, Chiarella hit a great drive into the fairway and left himself greenside in two on the par-5.
“You just have to control the adrenaline in some way, deep breathing and positive thoughts, just ground yourself somehow,” said Chiarella when asked about what it felt like coming down the stretch. “You’re getting overwhelmed for sure with adrenaline, but you have to know when to pump the breaks and level your head.”
Control the adrenaline is exactly what Chiarella did, taking advantage of his first made cut of the 2019 season.
“There are so many negative thoughts when you miss cuts,” said Chiarella. “When I missed three in a row, I just wasn’t feeling good, but when that putt went in on the last hole, that was incredible.
“This is my first major, big win. It’s definitely huge.”
The low Canadian of the week was Jared du Toit with a T11 finish, picking up his first Canada Life Canadian Player of the Week award of the 2019 season.