Date: November 26, 2013
Author: Martin Blake at Royal Sydney

Two-time winner Lonard on comeback trail

Rumours of Peter Lonard&aposs demise have been slightly exaggerated. The two-time Australian Open champion had his career threatened by a back injury that struck him down two years ago and saw him lose his playing rights on the PGA Tour. But Lonard, 46, winner of the Open in 2003 and 2004, refused to accept that he was finished as a touring player. Anti-inflammatories got him through. &apos&aposI&aposd never had a bad back in my life. One day, I think it was Wachovia, I walked on the range and said &aposthis doesn&apost feel right&apos&apos. I kept thinking &aposit&aposs going to be all right&apos but it wasn&apost. Next thing you&aposve lost your card. “I had two operations. I did a lot of training to strengthen it. At the end of the day, whether that made a lot of difference I don&apost know. The only thing that fixes it is drugs.&apos&apos Lonard is a stayer. He was out on the range in the fierce southerly winds at Royal Sydney yesterday, where he will play the Emirates Australian Open from Thursday, and then it&aposs back to California for the final stage of tour school for the secondary tour. It&aposs a long way from the heady days of his win at Hilton Head on the main tour in 2005, but it is a path he is treading wilfully. Just last week he was in the US getting through the previous stage of tour school, jumping on a plane straight after the Talisker Masters and arriving just in time to play the first of four rounds. “It would&aposve been a long way to go if I didn&apost make it,&apos&apos he said today. “Or at least a long way home!&apos&apos Lonard became a favourite on the Australasian tour a few years ago with his unique, metronomic swing and his knockabout ways, winning all three of the big tournaments at home. His ball-striking prowess remains, but there is work to be done.”I&aposm playing all right,&apos&apos he said. “I&aposve just lost the art of scoring. I play okay, I just don&apost score. At the PGA I drove it terribly, but outside of that, the last two or three months I&aposve been playing pretty good.&apos&apos Deep into his 40s Lonard feels like a fossil on the tour with its feisty, ambitious young 20-somethings. “I&aposm pretty old, really,&apos&apos he said. “There are some young kids out here, a lot of mojo. But I still practice just as hard. It&aposs probably a harder slog, it&aposs like starting again, which is hard to do when you&aposre 40, easier to do when you&aposre 20.&apos&apos The Lakes is his home course, and The Australian is another favourite; Royal Sydney not so much. “I seem to get it around and hit a lot of greens but I probably don&apost hole enough putts on these greens to give anyone a fright. But you never know. The course is pretty good, the greens are … if it can stay dry. The course is soft at the moment. If it dries out a bit it&aposs going to be fantastic.&apos&apos It doesn&apost get any easier in your 40s, especially when the likes of Adam Scott, the world No. 2, is in the field. Lonard has viewed Scott&aposs progression up close, and with no surprise at all. “I don&apost think anyone&aposs shocked. I think people are probably shocked that it didn&apost happen earlier. I mean, we played in front of him at Royal Melbourne the first two rounds. He hit drives that were just outrageous, how far they went, and they&aposre lasers. It&aposs not like they go big left to right or right to left. They&aposre Exercet missiles.&apos&apos