22 Feb 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Wright time on Champions Tour

by Tony Webeck

Michael Wright Champions Tour
Michael Wright will make his Champions Tour debut at the Trophy Hassan II in Morocco.

He might be the most unlikely player on the PGA TOUR Champions in 2024 but Queensland’s Michael Wright is determined to make the most of his rookie season on the senior tour.

Wright will make his Champions Tour debut in Morocco on Thursday night AEDT the day after celebrating his 50th birthday.

Teeing it up against major champions including Tom Lehman, Jose Maria Olazabal, John Daly and Angel Cabrera might be the best birthday present Wright could hope for, a gift that has been 10 years in the making.

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Winner of the 2011 WA PGA Championship when it was on the secondary Von Nida Tour, Wright’s career has been largely spent just fighting to keep the dream alive.

He has juggled professional golf with his career as a PE teacher but changed the trajectory of his career in spectacular fashion when he holed his third shot for birdie on the 72nd hole of Champions Tour Final Qualifying School last December.

As improbable as it all may seem, it’s the culmination of a plan hatched a decade ago.

“I could not fast forward time quick enough,” Wright said of the goal he set himself after turning 40.

“As soon as you get into adulthood you want to rewind the clock. But I was always trying to fast forward it.”

“Now I’m trying to pause it because I’m obviously the youngest of the lot over there.”

Inspired by the performances of Kiwi Steven Alker the past two years, Wright begins his Champions Tour journey in good form.

Thanks in no small part to a dedicated gym regimen and daily stretching routines, Wright is physically in good shape and has amassed four top-10 finishes this season on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia.

It’s why he joins the senior circuit with high hopes.

“I’m such a more complete player now,” Wright insists.

“That’s partly maturity, partly that flexibility and strength. I’m probably stronger now than I ever was.

“It’s always been hard because I’ve had that financial gremlin knocking at my head in the subconscious.

“I think I’ll even play better as the year goes on because that financial bug that’s in the back of my head will disappear.

“This year will be great and then the following years, if all goes well, it’ll just keep getting better and better I think.

“But I’ve really got to make my mark in the first few years. That’s my best chance.”

As Wright expands the Aussie presence to nine in Morocco, West Australian Hannah Green makes her first appearance for 2024 at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Starting the year No.28 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking, Green will be keen to stave off the challenge posed by both Grace Kim and Stephanie Kyriacou with the Paris Olympics less than six months away.

Harrison Endycott and Aaron Baddeley will be joined by Kiwi Ryan Fox at the PGA TOUR Mexico Open and there are 17 Aussies teeing it up at the International Series Oman on the Asian Tour.

Round 1 tee times AEDT

PGA TOUR Mexico Open at Vidanta Vidanta Vallarta, Vallarta, Mexico 12:41am* Maverick McNealy, Ben Taylor, Ryan Fox (NZ) 1:47am Harrison Endycott, David Skinns, Matt Atkins 5:15am Nate Lashley, Aaron Baddeley, Alex Smalley

Defending champion: Tony Finau Past Aussie winners: David Graham (1980), Jarrod Lyle (2008, Nationwide Tour) Prize money: $US8.1 million TV times: Live 2am-11am Friday, Saturday; Live 1am-10am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

DP World Tour Magical Kenya Open Muthaiga GC, Nairobi, Kenya 3:20pm* Josphat Rono, Connor McKinney, Kristian Krogh Johannessen 4:30pm Sam Jones (NZ), Om Prakash Chouhan, Ronald Rugumayo 9:10pm* Haydn Barron, Benjamin Rusch, Andrea Pavan 9:40pm* Thomas Power Horan, Oliver Bekker, Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen

Defending champion: Jorge Campillo Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US2.5 million TV times: Live 9pm-2am Thursday, Friday; Live 8:30pm-1am Saturday; Live 8pm-1am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Asian Tour International Series Oman Al Mouj Golf, Oman 1:45pm Aaron Wilkin, Justin Quiban, William Harrold 1:45pm* Justin Warren, Ye Wocheng, Saud Al Sharif 2:15pm* Wade Ormsby, Sebastian Munoz, Jinichiro Kozuma 2:35pm Andrew Dodt, Michael Maguire, Jeev Milkha Singh 2:55pm* Poom Saksansin, Sihwan Kim, Harrison Crowe 3:15pm Faisal Salhab, Deyen Lawson, Yeongsu Kim 6:25pm* Tatsunori Shogenji, Joshua Grenville-Wood, Maverick Antcliff 6:35pm Sampson Zheng (a), Jaco Ahlers, Jack Thompson 6:45pm Ratchanon Chantananuwat (a), Danny Lee (NZ), Eugenio Chacarra 6:45pm* Richard T Lee, Scott Hend, Matt Jones 6:55pm Ben Campbell (NZ), Branden Grace, Scott Vincent 7:05pm Travis Smyth, Dean Burmester, Kieran Vincent 7:15pm Denwit Boriboonsub, Lucas Herbert, Takumi Kanaya 7:15pm* Pavit Tangkamolprasert, Seungtaek Lee, Jed Morgan 7:35pm* Kevin Yuan, Rattanon Wannasrichan, Mingyu Cho 7:45pm* Carlos Pigem, Junggon Hwang, Todd Sinnott 7:55pm Jared Du Toit, Marcus Fraser, Chikkarangappa S 7:55pm* Zach Murray, Ervin Chang, Wooyoung Cho

Defending champion: Takumi Kanaya Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US2 million TV times: Live 8:30pm-12:30am Thursday on Fox Sports 507; Live 10:30pm-12:30am Friday on Fox Sports 505; Live 7pm-11pm Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

LPGA Tour Honda LPGA Thailand Siam Country Club (Old Cse), Chonburi, Thailand 12:02pm Hannah Green, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, Chanettee Wannasaen 12:26pm* A Lim Kim, Stephanie Kyriacou, Anna Nordqvist, 12:38pm Sarah Kemp, Xiyu Lin, Emily Kristine Pedersen 12:50pm Erika Hara, Nasa Hataoka, Grace Kim

Defending champion: Lilia Vu Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US1.7 million TV times: Live 2:30pm-7pm Thursday; Live 2pm-7pm Friday; Live 5pm-7:30pm Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Ladies European Tour Lalla Meryem Cup Royal Golf Dar Es Salam (Blue Cse), Morocco 7:25pm* Hannah Burke, Anne-Lise Caudal, Momoka Kobori (NZ) 12:07am Sophie Witt, Cara Gorlei, Kirsten Rudgeley

Defending champion: Maja Stark Past Aussie winners: Karen Lunn (2012) Prize money: €450,000

PGA TOUR Champions Trophy Hassan II Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Rabat, Morocco 7:52pm Rob Labritz, Ángel Cabrera, Stuart Appleby 7:52pm* Tim Petrovic, John Senden, Olin Browne 8:16pm Tom Gillis, David McKenzie, Billy Mayfair 8:40pm* Steve Allan, Ricardo Gonzalez, Carlos Franco 8:52pm* Michael Jonzon, Russ Cochran, David Bransdon 9:04pm* Michael Wright, Esteban Toledo, Joakim Haeggman 9:16pm Richard Green, Billy Andrade, Boo Weekley 9:28pm Ken Duke, Rod Pampling, Paul Broadhurst 9:40pm KJ Choi, José María Olazábal, Mark Hensby

Defending champion: Stephen Ames Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US2 million TV times: Live 1am-3am Friday; Live 12:30am-3am Saturday; Live 12am-3am Sunday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo.

Challenge Tour NMB Championship Humewood GC, Port Elizabeth, South Africa 5pm* Hayden Hopewell, Peter Karmis, James Kamte

Defending champion: Dylan Mostert Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US350,000

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