Senior aiming for double at Australian PGA
COOLUM, Australia - Veteran Peter Senior was aiming for a historic ‘double double’ when the Australian PGA teed off at the Sunshine Coast resort of Coolum.
The 53-year-old Queenslander became the oldest Australian Open winner ever last week and would become the first player to win the Open-PGA double on two occasions if he can repeat his Sydney heroics.
The unassuming Senior last won the Australian Open and PGA in the same year in 1989 when he was at the peak of his powers.
Although he has been in good form on the US Seniors tour, nobody gave him much chance of winning last week.
However, his superb accuracy in high winds around The Lakes course saw him shoot a final round even-par score of 72 to win his second Open by one shot.
Senior, who has a good record at the Coolum course and won the PGA two years ago, was upbeat about his chances this year.
“Coolum has been a good hunting ground for me and I have played pretty well here over the last few years, won twice around here,” he said.
“It is a course that the longer hitters don’t have that great an advantage — it is more placement — and if I can putt as well as I did last week who knows?
“I’m probably hitting it more consistently than I did in the late ’80s early ’90s when I had a good stretch of tournaments, definitely more consistent than I have ever been.”
Senior teed off early Thursday in a group that included fellow Australian Marc Leishman and South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini.
PGA officials will have been relieved when the tournament finally got under way following a week full of distractions due largely to the antics of resort owner, colourful mining magnate Clive Palmer.
Palmer has painted advertising signs for many of his own companies across a number of fairways and has even installed a giant robotic dinosaur named Jeff between the ninth green and 10th tee, although it will apparently be turned off for the duration of the tournament.
Tensions between PGA officials and Palmer were so high in the lead-up to the event that there was doubt as to whether it would go ahead.
PGA chief executive Brian Thorburn confirmed on Tuesday that the tournament would be moved from Coolum in 2013 after 11 years at the resort.
Drawcards Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and veteran Australian Greg Norman were diplomatic about the excessive advertising around the course.
“It’s interesting, it would be silly of me not to notice them,” Clarke said.
“In this day and age with the global economic climate sponsors aren’t that easy to come by — different sponsors have different ideas and the owner this week has his own different ideas, and that’s fine.”
Norman conceded it was unusual to see giant logos painted onto the grass at a golf course.
“We see it in other sports, but is it the way golf’s going to go? I don’t think so,” he said.
“Doing it with a bit of taste and class, maybe you can get away with it.”
The tournament is co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia and offers prize-money of $1,250,000.