Aussies Abroad: Percy in attack mode at Rocket Mortgage Classic

Victorian Cameron Percy is going into attack mode at this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit as he sets his sights on finishing inside the top 125 on the PGA TOUR for the first time in his career.

Having made his first post-COVID 19 start at last week’s Travelers Championship on short notice, Percy enters this week’s tournament as one of eight Aussies teeing it up at Detroit Golf Club and with a much better preparation under his belt.

Sitting as high as 14th in the FedEx Cup early in the wrap-around season, Percy fell from 109th to 128th after missing the cut at TPC River Highlands last Friday and knows he will have to go low this week if he is to break back into the magical top 125.

Given the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Percy’s status that he earned through the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 will be maintained through the 2021 season but finishing in the top 125 will bring far greater certainty to the schedule he can play next year.

“It’s so much easier when you’re exempt,” says Percy, who made a mad dash from his home in North Carolina to Connecticut when close to a dozen players withdrew from the Travelers Championship.

“You can pick which tournaments you want to play, you don’t have to worry about re-ranks and you can plan stuff rather than constantly worrying about which tournaments you may or may not get in to.

“The category I’m in, I’ve been in it my whole career. I’ve never actually finished in the top 125. I’ve always gone back to a Q school or the finals and got my card back that way.

“If you’re top 125 you just work out what you want to play and you play.

“I’ve dropped out of the top 125 now so I need to have a good week somewhere to get back in there and then get ready for next season.”

Now 46 years of age, Percy was convinced he was going to play the first event back at Colonial Country Club in Texas, missing out when a flood of entries were submitted late and bumped him down the pecking order.

Percy estimates that he has four events after this week to play his way into enhanced status for next year and has no intention of holding back.

“Last week I played OK the first day and then played terrible the second day – I never drove it on the golf course so I couldn’t attack,” said Percy, who described the Detroit Golf Club as akin to a wider version of Lang Lang Golf Club in the South Gippsland region south-east of Melbourne.

“This week you’re going to have seven or eight holes where you’ve only got a wedge in your hand so you’re going to have to make some birdies.

“There are three or four holes where you will have 7 or 8-iron in and then the par 5s are all reachable for me except for perhaps one of them.

“The course is very short and the scoring is going to be crazy low so you’re going to have to just go for it this week.

“I’ve probably only got four left after this so it’s not much and it all goes pretty quickly.”

While the shortened season puts pressure on Percy to make every start count, the COVID-19-enforced suspension was a blessing in disguise.

In between running fitness camps for the kids in the neighbourhood and administering home schooling for his own three children, Percy was able to rehabilitate the wrist he fractured in April last year and which has been causing him pain ever since.

“I was contemplating taking a medical,” Percy revealed.

“I had no strength and was losing a lot of distance. I was coming out of shots a lot and I was playing in pain every day.

“I was sick of it so I was considering taking a medical when the COVID hit and that gave me a chance to rest and get some strength back in my body.

“My body is feeling way better now, I’ve got a bit more speed back and a bit more distance.

“At the start I was only able to hit 20 balls a day, then 30, then 40.

“It was just a really, really slow build-up to get my wrists used to the thud of hitting the ground again.

“It was great timing for me to have some time off.”

Round 1 tee times

Rocket Mortgage Classic
Detroit Golf Club, Detroit, Michigan
8.45pm Cameron Davis, James Hahn, David Hearn
9.15pm*              Greg Chalmers, Tyler Duncan, Pat Perez
10.15pm*            Aaron Baddeley, Beau Hossler, Roger Sloan
2.10am Tim Wilkinson, Seung-Yul Noh, Ricky Barnes
2.10am*              John Senden, Sam Ryder, Matt Wallace
2.20am*              Cameron Percy, Seamus Power, Erik van Rooyen
2.50am Jason Day, Brendon Todd, Bubba Watson
3.20am Matt Jones, Michael Thompson, Arjun Atwal
4am*     Rhein Gibson, Sebastian Cappelen, Donnie Trosper

Defending champion: Nate Lashley
Top Aussie prediction: Jason Day
TV schedule: Live 5am-8am Friday and Saturday; 3am-8am Sunday and Monday on Fox Sports 503

Korn Ferry Tour
TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes
TPC Colorado, Berthoud, Colorado
11.34pm*            Mark Hensby, Curtis Thompson, Robert Garrigus
11.56pm*            Brett Coletta, Nicholas Lindheim, Jim Knous
12.18am*            Harrison Endycott, Jack Maguire, Taylor Pendrith
4.53am Curtis Luck, Kyle Jones, Scott Gutschewski
5.04am*              Jamie Arnold, Sangmoon Bae, Ollie Schniederjans
5.15am*              Steven Alker, Ben Kohles, Wade Binfield
5.48am Brett Drewitt, Chandler Blanchet, Chase Johnson
6.21am*              Ryan Ruffels, David Skinns, Brian Richey

Defending champion: Nelson Ledesma
Top Aussie prediction: Brett Coletta

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