After long wait, Aussie Green finally gets chance to test his game in U.S.
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Australia native Richard Green is about to live his dream.
The lanky, smooth-swinging left-hander, who won three times on the DP World Tour, always wanted to ply his trade in America. But he never earned a PGA TOUR card despite reaching as high as 29 in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2007.
None of that matters now. Green, 51, decided to take a shot at PGA TOUR Champions Q-School this past December in Scottsdale, Arizona, and lo and behold, he emerged as the medalist. Other than playing in nine majors on U.S. soil, he has never spent much time here.
“Throughout my whole career on the European Tour my goals in my life were always to come and play in the U.S. at some point,” Green said. “I had opportunities through the mid-2000s through having a top 50 world ranking and playing eligible events through that criteria but never got a PGA TOUR card. I left that goal on the table if you like.
“Wanting to fulfill that goal, the opportunity when I turned 50 presented itself to come play on PGA TOUR Champions. I was full steam ahead for that. I think that drive to get that position is what helped me be successful in the qualifying.”
Green shot 68-65-68-65 and blitzed the field at TPC Scottsdale by four shots. All parts of his game were on full display, including excellent ball-striking and a sure putting stroke.
Because he spent a couple of weeks in Scottsdale prior to the final stage of qualifying and got comfortable with the area. Green says it’s where he’ll call home base for his rookie season on PGA TOUR Champions.
“I became very good friends with Denny Scholl, the head pro at the Champions course at TPC,” Green said. “I also started to understand what’s around the area, and now having a TOUR card and being eligible to play TPC venues around the country, I thought Scottsdale might be a really good place to stay. I’ll just be renting a house at this stage until we really see how this year goes.”
Green said he’ll rely on advice from fellow Aussies Robert Allenby and Rod Pampling during his first season. He said he and Allenby have been friends since they were junior players.
The only course with which Green is familiar is En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, New York, site of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open.
“I was actually leading with one or two holes to play, and Gabriel Hjertstedt won it,” Green said in reference to the 1997 B.C. Open. He finished in a tie for fifth. “That was one of my best results in a PGA TOUR event. So seeing En-Joie on the schedule excites me. Other than that, it will be a fair bit of golf course study, but I really enjoy that. I’d rather play than stand on the range hitting balls all day.”
Of the past 10 medalists at PGA TOUR Champions Q-School, four have gone on to win on the Champions Tour. Green is looking forward to testing his game against the best competition the world has to offer.
“I don’t relate to the guys on the PGA TOUR or European Tour anymore,” said Green, who won the 1997 Dubai Desert Classic in a playoff over Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam. “I relate to the guys on the Champions Tour. Over the course for my career, I was playing against some of the guys, like Padraig Harrington, or when I played in the majors in the U.S. against all the guys on the Champions Tour now.
“For me, I’m playing with the best in the world. To be in contention with all of these guys and compete on the same level, it’s going to be a real test. I’ll get a lot out of performing well in that arena.”