24 Nov 2021 | Professional golf |

McKenzie adopts underdog tag for Senior PGA Championship

by PGA of Australia

David McKenzie is playing down any sense of expectation this week.
David McKenzie is playing down any sense of expectation this week.

By Tony Webeck

He has played more high-level competitive golf than any other player in the field in 2021 yet Champions Tour regular David McKenzie is playing down any sense of expectation ahead of the RM Williams Australian PGA Seniors Championship starting in Sydney on Thursday.

This is the fifth year in a row that Richmond Golf Club in Sydney’s west will host Australia’s leading over-50s male players, the 2021 field boasting such familiar names as McKenzie, Peter Lonard, Peter O’Malley, Peter Fowler and Mike Harwood.

While international playing opportunities have been limited for many, McKenzie returned to Melbourne three weeks ago after playing 19 events on the Champions Tour in the US, recording two top-six finishes to finish 53rd on the moneylist and retain his card.

With brother Justin seriously ill, McKenzie skipped the final event of the year to return home early but despite being the most credentialed player in the field is playing down any expectation that he is the man to beat this week.

“I saw ‘Chooky’ Fowler leaving the gym when I arrived on Tuesday and he was in there again when I was getting my bacon and eggs this morning so I’m under no illusion that Chooky wants to play well,” said McKenzie.

“Whenever I’ve had high expectations of myself or thought that I was the better player or a better chance to win I’ve never performed at my best.

“I’ve always tried to play down my expectations of what I want to do in a tournament because the golf ball doesn’t know that you’re the form player and the hole doesn’t know you’re meant to hole more putts than somebody else.

“Generally speaking, I just go about the process of doing the work that I need to do to be ready to play. Then I go out, let it rip and see how it goes from there.”

Third behind Michael Long and Peter Senior at Richmond in 2018, McKenzie has missed the past two Australian Senior PGA Championships but showed his class with back-to-back wins on the SParms Legends Tour in March this year.

And although he admits the likes of Lonard, O’Malley, Harwood and Fowler had stronger careers in their earlier days, he is coming off a fourth straight season on the world’s most competitive senior tour.

“I always see those guys as being hard to beat,” said McKenzie, who has been drawn to play with Guy Wall and Shaquill Mongol in Thursday’s two-tee start.

“Peter O’Malley, Mike Harwood, Peter Lonard, Michael Long, all those guys had way better careers when they were younger than I did but at the moment I’m playing at a higher level than what they are.

“To me, that evens things out and I might be even sharper because I’m doing it that little bit more and at that little bit of a higher level.

“That doesn’t mean you’re going to win but I’ll be fortunate in the sense that I can play not at my best and still be competitive.”

The 54-year-old has taken to Google Maps to familiarise himself with the Richmond layout but believes the weather forecast may have an even greater impact on who holds the trophy aloft on Saturday.

“Looking at some Google Maps and from memory it is a very narrow course,” McKenzie added.

“It’s not necessarily long but it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays this week because I’m assuming it’s going to be wet.

“It’s going to be a test of your patience and resilience to be able to keep your head on and bring the best golf when you can.”

All groups will tee off between 7am and 8.50am AEDT from the first and 10th tees on Thursday with the top 50 and ties after 36 holes to advance to the third and final round on Saturday.

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