26 May 2022 | Professional golf |
Aussies On Tour: Stolz steps up
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
His arrival has sparked unexpected interest in the senior circuit back home but now Andre Stolz is ready to go toe-to-toe with golf’s greats at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in Michigan.
The 51-year-old former PGA Tour winner is at Harbor Shores Resort by virtue of winning the 2021 SParms PGA Legends Tour Order of Merit, a year of dominance in which he won eight times and finished more than $11,000 clear of Brad Burns.
Stolz is one of 10 Aussies in the field for the second senior major of 2022 including Victorian left-hander Richard Green, who also recently qualified for the US Senior Open along with John Senden and Mark Hensby. (David McKenzie and Gavin Coles are alternates).
A poor start proved costly for Stolz at US Senior Open qualifying but he has spent the past month in the US attempting to qualify for Champions Tour events and playing money games in Tennessee to get game ready for the Senior PGA.
It is a significant step up in class yet Stolz has been surprised by the level of interest amongst fellow Australians in the Legends Tour back home.
“On the range today it was quite frustrating because I was trying to get some serious work done but there are so many blokes I haven’t seen for years,” Stolz said.
“(Robert) Allenby, (Stuart) Appleby, John Senden, one of my old best mates from years ago, (Stephen) Leaney who I used to play a lot of practice rounds with, (Rod) Pampling who is just a great bloke and hasn’t changed a bit. I haven’t seen a lot of them for a long time so every one of them walked past me on the range and stopped for a yak.
“This week is a great opportunity. It’s great that the Aussie Tour has found a way to get us a spot over here and give whoever wins the money list a taste of it.
“What I’ve noticed, all the guys over here have watched that stuff. Allenby and these guys, they’re all asking me what the events are like back home.
“I was shocked. They all knew how many events I’d won, they’re actually watching it. And they’re all interested in how the events are run.
“It made me think that if we could get half a dozen decent-sized events back-to-back when there’s no Champions Tour events we might be a chance of getting these guys to come back and play.”
That Stolz is playing this week at all is testament to his talent and determination.
A PGA TOUR career constantly disrupted by injury – most notably issues with his wrist – convinced Stolz to quit the game altogether at 44 years of age.
He didn’t play or even own a set of golf clubs for five years before his looming 50th birthday instigated a nagging thought in the back of his mind that couldn’t be ignored.
“I didn’t want to have any regrets when I’m in my mid-50s that I didn’t even try and play golf again,” admitted Stolz, who has been drawn to play with Charlie Wi and PGA Professional Alan Morin in the opening two rounds.
“I had to rebuild my swing and change everything so for me it was more about testing the limits of how good I could be again.
“My swing is crazy short now compared to being silly long. It’s not that it’s hurting my distance it’s more to alleviate the issues on my body and my wrist.
“All the effort I put in was to see how good I could get again.”
He knows there is little he can do to rid himself of the competitive rust that has built up the past two months but given his success back home the past 18 months Stolz knows he has the game to compete on the Champions Tour in future.
“I’ve been practising and playing pretty much every day since I’ve been here but you’re missing the competition, that sharp edge,” he conceded.
“That’s something I’ve got to get through but otherwise my game feels all right.
“For me it feels like where I should be; the hard part is getting a go over here. Give me three or four tournaments to get some momentum going and some feel going of playing tournament golf again, I feel like I’d be fine.
“You’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle for one week which is never easy.
“It is good over here – I’ve always loved it – but unfortunately these blokes are damn good so playing good’s not good enough.
“You’ve got to be playing incredibly to break out and get amongst it.”
There are major ramifications for Aussies playing in Japan and the Netherlands this week with four and three places on offer to The Open Championship respectively. Round 1 tee times AEST Champions Tour KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Harbor Shores Resort, Benton Harbor, Michigan 10.03pm Richard Green, Jose Maria Olazabal, Rob Labritz 10.47pm Mark Hensby, Lee Janzen, Jesper Parnevik 10.58pm Robert Allenby, Roger Chapman, David Toms 10.58pm* Stephen Leaney, Mike San Filippo, Jeff Maggert 11.31pm Andre Stolz, Alan Morin, Charlie Wi 2.50am John Senden, Michael Crowley, Thongchai Jaidee 3.23am* Rod Pampling, Mark Mielke, Steve Pate 3.34am* Stuart Appleby, Colin Montgomerie, Scott McCarron 4.07am Michael Campbell, Tom Lehman, Jay Haas 4.18am* Steven Alker, Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer 4.51am* Peter Fowler, Eric Chiles, Bob Estes 5.02am* David McKenzie, Mike Valicenti, Tom Byrum Defending champion: Alex Cejka (2020) Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Rod Pampling TV schedule: Live 3am-6am Friday, Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 3.30am on Fox Sports +; Live 5am-8am Monday on Fox Sports 505 PGA TOUR Charles Schwab Challenge Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas 11.37pm* Lucas Herbert, Gary Woodland, Brandt Snedeker 11.59pm* Min Woo Lee, Greyson Sigg, Tyler Strafaci 3.01am* Danny Lee, James Hahn, Scott Stallings 3.23am* Matt Jones, JT Poston, Martin Trainer 3.45am* Cam Davis, Robert Streb, Brendon Todd Defending champion: Jason Kokrak Past Aussie winners: Bruce Crampton (1965), Bruce Devlin (1966), Ian Baker-Finch (1989), Adam Scott (2014) Top Aussie prediction: Lucas Herbert TV schedule: Live 6am-9am Friday, Saturday; Live 4am-9am Sunday; Live 3am-8.30am Monday on Fox Sports 503 DP World Tour Dutch Open Bernardus Golf, Cromvoirt, Netherlands 4pm Scott Hend, Sebastian Soderberg, John Catlin 4.10pm Zach Murray, Julien Brun, Espen Kofstad 8.50pm* Jason Scrivener, Daniel van Tonder, George Coetzee 9.30pm Ryan Fox, Joost Luiten, Kristoffer Broberg 10.30pm* Maverick Antcliff, Thriston Lawrence, Kalle Samooja Defending champion: Kristoffer Broberg Past Aussie winners: Jack Newton (1972), Graham Marsh (1979, 1985), Stephen Leaney (1998, 2000) Top Aussie prediction: Jason Scrivener TV schedule: Live 9.30pm-2.30am Thursday, Friday; Live 11.15pm-2am Saturday; Live 9.30pm-2am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 LPGA Tour Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, Nevada Round 1 2am Minjee Lee v Youngin Chun 3.10am Su Oh v Hye-Jin Choi 5.20am Hannah Green v Haeji Kang Defending champion: Ally Ewing Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Minjee Lee TV schedule: Live 3.30am-7am Thursday; Live 9am-12pm Friday, Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 7.30am-10.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8.30am-11.30am Monday on Fox Sports 503 Japan Golf Tour Mizuno Open JFE Setonaikai Golf Club, Okayama 8.30am* Dylan Perry, Naoto Nakanishi, Shotaro Wada 8.50am Brad Kennedy, Yusaku Miyazato, Yuki Inamori 9.10am* Adam Bland, Eric Sugimoto, Ryutaro Nagano 9.20am* Matthew Griffin, Yoshitaka Takeya, Tatsunori Nukaga 1.05pm* David Bransdon, Yuta Kinoshita, Takashi Iwamoto 1.15pm* Brendan Jones, Tomoharu Otsuki, Hideto Tanihara 1.35pm Andrew Evans, Daihei Sato, Ryuichi Oiwa 1.45pm Michael Hendry, Hiroki Abe, Hiroyuki Fujita 1.55pm Anthony Quayle, Kenshiro Ikegami, Tomohiro Kondo Defending champion: Juvic Pagunsan Past Aussie winners: Brian Jones (1990), Roger Mackay (1991), Brendan Jones (2004, 2013), Chris Campbell (2005), Brad Kennedy (2012) Top Aussie prediction: Brad Kennedy Korn Ferry Tour NV5 Invitational The Glen Club, Glenview, Illinois 9.55pm Curtis Luck, Nelson Ledesma, Brian Smock 10.37pm* Harrison Endycott, Tag Ridings, Zack Fischer 11.30pm* Nick Voke, Ashton Van Horne, Steven Fisk 11.40pm Ryan Ruffels, Vincent Norrman, Spencer Ralston 3.26am Brett Drewitt, Carl Yuan, Kyle Reifers 3.36am* Rhein Gibson, Kris Ventura, Whee Kim 3.57am Aaron Baddeley, Jimmy Stanger, George Cunningham Defending champion: Cameron Young Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Curtis Luck Challenge Tour Farmfoods Scottish Challenge supported by The R&A Newmachar Golf Club, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 7.20pm Jarryd Felton, Nick Bachem, Euan Walker 11.45pm Dimitrios Papadatos, Neil Fenwick, Felix Palson 11.55pm Deyen Lawson, Jesper Svensson, Paul Elissalde 10.50pm* Blake Windred, Mikael Lindberg, Peter Launer Baek 11pm* Daniel Hillier, Clément Sordet, Ben Stow 11.30pm* Josh Geary, Paul Dunne, Jack McDonald Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Blake Windred Ladies European Tour The Mithra Belgian Ladies Open Naxhelet Golf Club, Wanze, Belgium 9.54pm Whitney Hillier, Marianne Skarpnord, Karolin Lampert Defending champion: Lora Fairclough (1995) Past Aussie winners: Karen Lunn (1988, 1990), Corinne Dibnah (1991) Top Aussie prediction: Whitney Hillier PGA TOUR-Latinoamerica Jalisco Open GDL Atlas Country Club, Guadalajara, Mexico 10.50pm* Charlie Hillier, Jack Sparrow, Brad Schneider 11.20pm* Denzel Ieremia, Gonzalo Rubio, Camilo Aguado 4am* Tim Stewart, Cristian Romero, Davis Shore Defending champion: Alvaro Ortiz Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Tim Stewart Epson Tour Inova Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship Mission Inn Resort and Club, Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida Australasians in the field: Robyn Choi, Julienne Soo, Sarah Jane Smith, Karis Davidson, Amelia Garvey, Gabriela Ruffels, Hira Naveed, Grace Kim, Soo Jin Lee Defending champion: Min Lee Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Grace Kim
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