Date: November 16, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Chalmers ‘zen’ for his favourite event


It wasn’t quite the last-chance saloon for Greg Chalmers – but he could see it from where he stood.

The Barracuda Championship this year was his 386th US PGA Tour start without a victory and with his playing privileges diminishing after a long and successful career, Chalmers knew his options were rapidly becoming limited.

And not just by his status on tour, but by the groans emanating from a wallet that before that July weekend had seen $27,000 deposited, but watched approximately $85,000 depart through the first half of 2016.

Then, 43 modified stableford points later, the affable West Australian’s life was turned on its ear.

“I was at a crossroads as to how my career was evolving at 43 years old and not doing very well, struggling on Tour and that was probably going to be my last start on the PGA Tour for the year,” Chalmers said today as he prepared for another tilt at the Emirates Australian Open.

“Sometimes in golf you have these fork-in-the-road moments and that was probably one of those for me.

“It wasn’t my last chance, but you can’t go forever on the (Tour) with two kids and a family to look after.

“It’s so hard to make money there. Losing money like that is not sustainable over a long period of time. You have to play better or … .”

It’s hard for Chalmers, who turned pro in 1995, to even contemplate what the completion of that sentence might look like.

But for the next two years, at least, the Texas-based Chalmers doesn’t have to worry about it with a PGA Tour card safely tucked away again.

“I don’t have to play every single week. I can manage it the best I can – almost to a large degree play whatever I like. I won’t be starved for options on the PGA Tour. It’s a relief and very exciting.

“To go from bottom of the pile to top of the pile, or at least higher up the rungs on the ladder was really cool, because I was struggling. It’s a great feeling, that’s for sure.”

What hasn’t been that way in the past few weeks is a back injury that forced the 1993 Australian Amateur champion out of last week’s OHL Classic in Mexico after just three holes.

While not a delight to hear from his doctor back in Dallas, the diagnosis of arthritis explained a lot to Chalmers, who was relieved he could return home for his national championship with a bit of pain relief.

“The back is good today. I got some anti-inflammatories to fix it in the short term and I’ll deal with the long-term prognosis when I get back to Dallas.”

Chalmers said a combination of management, better diet and revised travel plans would help him through the situation.

“It takes me about an hour to warm up in the morning these days before I even get to the golf course – so I’ve just got a few exercises to do keep me healthy.”

Which is great news for the remarkably unaffected Chalmers, who rates this week his favourite tournament each year – a love affair enhanced by two memorable wins, in 1998 and against an elite world-class field before the Presidents Cup in 2011.

“No question. It’s iconic for Australians. For my age bracket we grew up watching Greg Norman and we love it,” he said.

“That’s why so many of us are passionate about coming back and playing. I think (Geoff) Ogilvy is a great story this week, coming back and playing just one event shows you how dear he holds the tournament.”

So what about his status as a dual champion, one of only 16 multiple winners in the tournament’s 100 editions before this week?

“It’s nice, it flatters me. I understand the gravity of that,” he pondered.

“But I come home to Australia relaxed and I think it helps me play better because if I achieve good things, that’s great, but I’ve got a lot of good things going on with my family and friends.

“I like just walking around and catching up with people and see how they’re doing. I haven’t seen them for a year.

“I have done well some times because I haven’t desperately needed to. I’m pretty `zen’ about it, I suppose, and if it happens it happens, but if it doesn’t, that’s OK, I’ll get ‘em at the next event.”

His 2016 triumph will attest to that.