He used to think he’d be retired from tour golf by now but Peter Lonard isn’t willing to give up on what he calls the toughest fight of his career.
Instead 46-year-old Lonard is slugging it out on the secondary web.com Tour in the United States, rebuilding a career laid low by a back injury that sidelined him for two seasons.
It’s a far cry from just over a decade ago when, along with his two Australian PGA Championship crowns, Lonard had won two Australian Opens, an Australian Masters gold jacket and finished top 20 in three of the four majors in 2002.
Lonard admits that after spending years at the elite end of world golf on the US PGA Tour, he’s struggled to come to terms with battling to earn a return there.
“I’d liken it to going back to a traineeship after you’ve already done the traineeship and owned the company,” said Lonard, preparing for next week’s Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.
“It’s been a hard yak. I’m playing courses that I’ve never played before, they’re definitely not the same as PGA Tour courses.
“It’s been a good test of character.”
Lonard rates it “far more difficult than anything I’ve ever done before.”
That is saying something, considering what he went through early in his career.
Sidelined by debilitating Ross River Fever when a young European tour player in 1993-94, he took work as a club pro in Sydney for several years before his body and game were back in right shape to venture out again.
Lonard says several factors, including his back injury, are behind his latest decline but he has no plans to give the game away.
“The reason I’m still going is even though I had the year off with my back, trying to get back into it, when (my game) wasn’t working I’d still get in the car and think how am I going to fix it?,” he said.
“I never got in the car and thought I hate this, or I never want to do this anymore.
“That’s probably my personal reason why I’m still going but, on top of that, what the hell am I going to do?
“Any guy who is on the tour over a long period of time can probably deal with one thing going wrong … but when they get two or three things going south at once, they find it difficult.
“It’s like Olympic swimming. You fall a second off the pace and all of a sudden you’re 150th in the world, not No.1.”