Date: October 09, 2013
Author: OneAsia

Hungry Stolz has appetite for victory

Former OneAsia Order of Merit champion Andre Stolz has set his sights on this week&aposs Nanshan China Masters after whetting his appetite with a win in tropical New Caledonia last month. The 43-year-old Australian, with career victories on the U.S. PGA Tour, the Nationwide Tour, Japan Tour, OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia, was winless for two years until claiming the South Pacific Open title in Noumea, but feels he is getting back to form at just the right time. The remaining tournaments on the OneAsia schedule for 2013 have drawn stellar fields, with Major winners Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott all featuring in one or more events, as well as a host of top U.S. PGA and European Tour stars such as Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Marcus Fraser and Brandt Snedeker. Apart from bragging rights and the U.S. $1 million purse up for grabs at the Nanshan International Golf Club&aposs Montgomerie Course from October 10-13, victory also offers a bag full of world ranking points. “I feel as if I&aposve been playing around about the mark for the last 12 months or so, but there has just been a few untidy bits here and there,” Stolz said after a practice round on Tuesday. “The difference is I have started playing the difficult holes really well and that is important at this level. Things came together nicely in New Caledonia which really boosted my confidence at the right time.” Stolz claimed the OneAsia Order of Merit title in 2011 on the back of victories at the Thailand Open and Indonesia PGA Championship, but had a quiet season last year and made just three cuts with a best of joint 19th at this event. One key to his newly regained confidence has been his putting — particularly after switching grips earlier in the year — and he is now rolling the ball as purely as ever. “I went to cross-handed about three months ago and it seems to be working very well for me,” said the Brisbane-born Stolz, who admits to having a stash of dozens of putters at home that he swaps whenever he feels he needs to change things up. Although he currently favours a belly putter, Stolz says he has no qualms about returning to an orthodox one when the rule against anchored strokes is introduced in 2016. “A few of the guys have asked me what I&aposm going to do then, but I&aposve got 30 or 40 putters back home and I quite often just grab one, give it go, and if I roll the ball well with it well then I&aposll use it for a bit. “The only reason I use a belly putter is to get a good roll on the ball, but I am comfortable with a regular putter too.” Stolz clearly has a great golfing pedigree and has passed those genes on to his son Zac, 18, one of Australia&aposs leading amateurs, but he is nevertheless well aware of the quality of this week&aposs field. All the other Order of Merit winners since OneAsia&aposs founding five years ago are taking part — Scott Strange (2009), Liang Wenchong (2010) and Kim Bi-o (2012) — while Bi-o and Liang also won the first two editions of this tournament. But the major challenge is likely to come from Clarke and Schwartzel, the 2011 Open and U.S. Masters champions respectively, and Stolz is raring for action. “It&aposs always nice to mix it up with the big names,” he said. “It gives you something extra to aim for.”