Date: December 09, 2007
Author: Andrew Browne at Coolum

‘I almost pulled the pin’: Lonard

In a startling revelation, three-time winner of the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Peter Lonard admitted if he had not recently taken a well-earned break from golf he might have &apospulled the pin on the game&apos that has served him so well and even joked he &aposcould have ended up in jail&apos. The charismatic Lonard surged clear of a crowded overnight leaderboard to claim his ninth Australian title by three strokes from New Zealander David Smail, with another three Australian players – Greg Chalmers, Michael Sim and Scott Laycock – a further two strokes back at 15-under. Lonard knew he was ready to win again after regaining the &aposfire in the belly&apos on Sunday morning and said it was &aposout of necessity&apos to get off to a good start which he did with birdies on the first two holes. “Today was good not just the way I played but even on the (practice) range (in the morning) I had that fire in the belly,” declared Lonard after winning his third Joe Kirkwood Cup in five years. “The feeling I had before I played today had not happened for a while.” “I just wanted to be left alone to get on with the game – it doesn&apost make many friends but it worked.” But it was the revelation about almost giving the game away towards the end of a punishing US PGA Tour schedule that almost sent the 40-year-old over the edge. “You get to an age where you get sick of getting back up,” he said in his usual honest fashion. “You play a good tournament then feel you have to play again and by the end of the year I was ready to pull my hair out.” “If I had played the last 12 weeks (before the Australian Masters) I would have pulled the pin.” Lonard did not touch a club for eight of those weeks, instead admitting he &aposlaid on the couch most of the time, put on 10 kilos, then had a look around Egypt and drank a lot of water&apos. His first tournament back was at Huntingdale and when he arrived this week at one his favourite courses – the Hyatt Regency at Coolum – he was raring to go. “I felt like a 20-year-old again the time off was really good,” he said. Lonard&aposs love affair with the layout even drew praise from the runner-up and playing partner in Smail. “You just get the feeling he knows his way around this course pretty well,” said the New Zealander in a form of understatement. “It&aposs good to watch – impressive – He hit a couple of shots where he gets the driver and it does not look that spectacular but he knows exactly what he wants to do.” Even a player of Lonard&aposs experience says he has learned a lot about life on the US Tour this year and he will manage it a lot better in 2008. “Golf is a game where you don&apost win all the time, even Tiger (Woods) doesn&apost win all the time. He might win most of the time but a great year can be four wins,” he said. “Next year I might only play four tournaments at a time then I will take a two-week break.” In the meantime the other burning question on everyone&aposs lips was how the popular winner will celebrate this victory as his 2004 effort has become folklore. “I think my complimentary round last time cost me eight grand,” quipped Lonard in reference to shouting the bar at the Hyatt resort that night. “There must have been a few because more people have actually asked me if the free bar was on tonight than had ever spoken to me in my life.” “(However) I&aposve matured – I will be drinking iced water most of the night and coaxing as many people to the devil as I can.”