Stolz fit and firing ahead of Gold Coast Senior PGA return - PGA of Australia

Stolz fit and firing ahead of Gold Coast Senior PGA return

He sent a scare through the Australian golf community but SParms Legends Tour Order of Merit leader Andre Stolz is ready to pick up where he left off at this week’s Gold Coast Senior PGA Championship at Lakelands Golf Club.

The 36-hole event starting Thursday represents the second edition of the Gold Coast Senior PGA, the 2020 tournament cancelled due to COVID.

This year’s event is worth $40,000 and although players in southern states are unable to take part due to border restrictions legends of the game such as Peter Senior, Rodger Davis and Terry Price will tee it up.

A five-time winner on the Legends Tour earlier in the year, Stolz was forced to retire from the Meadowbrook event in September with what doctors suspected was a mild heart attack.

After a week in hospital where he underwent numerous tests, the ultimate diagnosis was that of perimyocarditis – an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart. Although a scare for he and his family, Stolz recovered quickly and is now desperate to get back to his winning ways.

“I couldn’t play in the Australian Senior PGA last week but that was simply down to the border restrictions,” explained Stolz, who has been based on the Sunshine Coast for the past two years.

“I haven’t had a chance to play a tournament since Meadowbrook but I’ve been practising hard, playing plenty of golf and I’m ready to go.

“It was a shame it happened when it did because I was playing really good golf but I’m all good now and keen to play as many events as I can over the summer.

“I have to say, when it happened and I was in hospital I was getting more phone calls and messages than if I’d won a major. It was nice to know so many people cared that I was OK.”

Although the size of the field is somewhat limited because of border restrictions, Tournament Host and PGA Legends player Greg Rix is thrilled at the high-quality field taking part, including defending champion Peter Senior.

“This year sees the Gold Coast Senior PGA Championship at Lakelands become the biggest purse event for Queensland at $40,000,” said Rix.

“For that we have to thank principal sponsors Pimpama City Shopping Centre, TB Liquor and Porsche Centre Gold Coast who continue to partner this event together with the PGA.

“We have a stellar field including Peter Senior, Roger Davis and Andre Stolz who will play alongside Gold Coast and Queensland business royalty which includes 200 amateurs and 50 PGA Professionals.”

The recent rain that has inundated the Gold Coast should produce receptive putting surfaces and allow the state’s best over-50s players to chase down Senior’s winning score of 15-under from two years ago.

For Stolz, it represents another opportunity to build towards a crack at the lucrative Champions Tour in the US in 2022.

As a former PGA Tour winner and current member of the Tour, Stolz can enter Monday qualifiers next year and if he can hold on and win the Order of Merit will receive an invite to the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

“There’s a three-week stretch I could do some qualifying for in mid-February and then there’s a nine-week stretch that starts mid-April,” said the 51-year-old.

“As long as I can get there I’m 100 per cent going to do that nine-week run and then there’s another long stretch later in the year.

“I’ve got two exemptions into Q School as well but I didn’t want to use one of those this year not having played a lot of tournaments.

“I’ll go over next year, try and play my way into some events, go to Q School if need be and just get amongst it.”

Entry to the Gold Coast Senior PGA Championship is free and spectators are more than welcome both Thursday and Friday. For further information on the tournament or the entire SParms PGA Legends Tour, please click here.

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