Chiarella victorious in Canada

Seabury Hall graduate wins Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open for first Mackenzie Tour title

Alex Chiarella holds the championship trophy after winning the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open on Sunday for his first win on the Mackenzie Tour (PGA Tour Canada). The 25-year-old from Makawao shot a 3-under 68 in the final round to win by one shot. Mackenzie Tour / Zenon Andreo photo

The Maui News

Coming into the Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open, Alex Chiarella hadn’t had an ideal start to his Mackenzie Tour season.

The Seabury Hall graduate missed the cut in the first three events on Canada’s PGA Tour, leaving him focused on not letting any negative thoughts take over his mind.

” ‘You’ve just got to keep on trekking, keep on trekking,’ “ he told himself.

He did more than that.

Alex Chiarella, shown during the Mackenzie Tour Players Cup in August 2018, had missed the cut in his first three tour events this year before winning Sunday. Mackenzie Tour / Chuck Russell photo

Chiarella wrapped up a career-changing week at Paradise Canyon Golf Resort in Lethbridge, Alberta, with a 3-under-par 68 on Sunday to earn his first Mackenzie Tour title.

The 25-year-old from Makawao finished the tournament at 20-under 264, one stroke ahead of Travis Trace (67).

“Unbelievable, I can’t really describe how it felt,” Chiarella told The Maui News via phone hours after his victory. “I don’t even know if it’s soaked in quite yet, but just overwhelmed with emotion. It was just incredible.

“You have to have the lows to enjoy the highs.”

This win certainly helps ease the pain of recent lows for the two-time Maui Interscholastic League champion and three-time Maui Open winner.

Chiarella, whose best finish on the Canadian tour had been a tie for 20th at the Players Cup last August, failed to make the cut at this year’s first three events — the Canada Life Open, the Bayview Place DCBank Open and the GolfBC Championship.

In the first two of those tournaments, he’d missed the weekend by only two shots each time.

“Game didn’t feel that good, obviously,” Chiarella said. “Just kind of turned it around, more mentally than physically. Just went into this week with a really good mental approach. I knew I was close, I knew I wasn’t playing that bad, and it just took a couple things here and there. Golf is such a crazy game that a couple things here and there can really turn it around. So, really good mindset this week.”

That positive attitude helped lead to rounds of 64-67-65 over the first three days at Paradise Canyon to stake Chiarella to a two-shot lead heading into the final round.

He got off to a good start Sunday with birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. But as he looked over a 5-foot par putt at No. 9, play was suspended for close to two hours due to rain.

Once play resumed, he missed the putt and dropped into a tie with Trace, who had made his 12-foot putt for birdie just before the delay.

In addition to Chiarella and Trace, Justin Doeden and Iolani alum Lorens Chan also held a share of the lead at some point on the back nine.

Chiarella remained steady, sinking birdies on the par-4 13th and par-3 17th. After Trace missed his eagle putt on 18, Chiarella knew he had a two-putt from 10 feet for the victory.

“I lagged it up there nice and close and tapped it in and was overwhelmed with emotion,” Chiarella said in a story posted on the Mackenzie Tour website. “To not made a cut and then for everything to just work out like this, it’s incredible.”

Doeden (68), Jake Johnson (64), Andrew Yun (67) and Hayden Buckley (66) finished in a tie for third at 18 under. Chan carded a 68 to finish another two shots back.

The win earned Chiarella $36,000, made him exempt for the remainder of the Mackenzie Tour’s 12-tournament schedule and vaulted him to No. 3 on the Order of Merit, the tour’s money list that determines players’ eligibility for the Web.com Tour. The top five players at the end of the season earn Web.com Tour cards.

Mackenzie Tour Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open

Sunday’s Top Finishers

At Lethbridge, Alberta

Alex Chiarella 64-67-65-68–264 -20

Travis Trace 63-65-70-67–265 -19

Jake Johnson 66-69-67-64–266 -18

Andrew Yun 66-70-63-67–266 -18

Hayden Buckley 64-71-65-66–266 -18

Justin Doeden 68-62-68-68–266 -18

Lorens Chan 64-67-69-68–268 -16

Theo Humphrey 70-66-64-68–268 -16

Bryson Nimmer 68-70-68-63–269 -15

Zane Thomas 62-70-70-67–269 -15

Sebastian Crampton 67-69-69-65–270 -14

Derek Bayley 65-73-68-64–270 -14

Drew McCullough 68-68-68-66–270 -14

Andrew Paysse 67-69-67-67–270 -14

Dawson Armstrong 64-71-67-68–270 -14

Jared du Toit 66-68-68-68–270 -14

Jake Knapp 66-71-64-69–270 -14

David Pastore 67-65-69-69–270 -14

Order of Merit leaders–1. Jake Knapp $75,850; 2. Paul Barjon $51,780; 3. Alex Chiarella $36,000; 4. Lorens Chan $29,850; 5. Travis Trace $29,215.