PETER O’MALLEY had a very solid start in his first round at the 2015 Australian PGA Senior Championship in Sydney but he already had one leg on a plane to Los Angeles to challenge for a US Champions Tour spot.
The 54 hole senior Aussie championship finishes Saturday afternoon and win or lose O’Malley is booked on a US flight leaving early Sunday morning.
“I get to LA Sunday morning their time and I just drive out to the [Champions Tour Qualifying] course and have a practice round on Sunday afternoon and Monday and tee it up Tuesday. So it is a busy sort of time,” he told ASG after his 2-under 68 at the Richmond Golf Club, just two behind clubhouse leader Mike Harwood.
O’Malley turned 50 in June this year and within weeks was making a big impression on the European Senior Tour.
“I played on the European Tour from 89 through to 2012 and I really enjoyed my time there,” he said. “That’s why I was exempt to go and play on the senior’s tour this year and I had a good time.”
“I can go and play all the events there next year in Europe if I don’t get through America. Even if I do I will probably still play a few in Europe.”
“I played five events [on the European Senior Tour] this year and I really enjoy it. There’s probably just not enough events over there and that’s why I’m off to America on Sunday to try and qualify for the Champions Tour.
“I’ve got two stages to go through. The first stage is next week which is four rounds and there’s probably sixteen spots available and if I get through that the final stage is in Scottsdale, Arizona, and there’s 78 guys for five spots so it is a pretty tough gig; but anyway we’ll see how we go.”
O’Malley said he had spoken to Champions Tour veteran Peter Senior about his ambitions. Senior is another headlining the field in Richmond this week, along with the likes of Harwood, Peter Fowler and Rodger Davis.
“Pete Senior is out there and he is the only Aussie … Steve
Elkington plays a little bit, he hasn’t played much this year. So it is the place if you want to keep playing golf and make a bit of money. It’s the place to do it.
“I’ve talked to Peter about it and he loves it and he would be happy if there were some more Australians over there as well.”
The Senior PGA is just the second senior event O’Malley has played in Australia and follows his home state debut at the NSW/ACT PGA Seniors Championship at Mollymook Golf Club a few weeks back.
“I’ve played in plenty of other events for the last 28 years so it is nice to play some senior events,” he said.
“The last couple of events I’ve played I’ve seen a lot of guys I played with for a long time, which is great. And when I played in Europe at the British Senior Open this year I saw a lot of guys from America that I played with a long time ago so it is always good to catch up with the guys.”
O’Malley was reasonably pleased with his game and quietly confident about his chances in the US.
“I’m playing all right,” he said. “I played decent today. I’ve got to sharpen up my game but it’s good to have these competitive rounds going into it. My game’s not in bad shape so I’m hopefully confident.”
Early leader Mike Harwood not getting ahead of himself
Early clubhouse leader Mike Harwood has had a purple patch of late with a number of recent wins under his belt, including the recent NSW/ACT PGA Seniors Championship.
“Yeah I played good today,” he said after his 4-under 66. “I could have had a couple less or a couple more, it was one of those rounds where I didn’t take a few opportunities but I also got a couple of lucky breaks as well so all in all it was pretty good.”
“I’m playing well but [this week] we’ve got Peter Senior and Peter Fowler in the field so it is going to come down to the last nine holes on Saturday. So you don’t jump ahead of yourself too much because at the end of the day they are going to be there.”
Australian PGA Senior Championship LeaderboardAustralian PGA Senior Championship Leaderboard