Momentum can be everything in the game of golf, but sometimes a stint away from the fairways is just as beneficial.
In his first year as a senior professional, reigning TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA champion Michael Long has been one of the busiest pros on tour. Competing in ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia tournaments, Ladbrokes Legends Tour events and qualifying schools in between, Long’s schedule has been jam-packed.
A break from golf in the middle of the year, however, has seen the Perth-based New Zealander raring to go for the Australian summer of golf starting at Kalgoorlie Golf Course.
“I had a really busy start to my senior career or the Ladbrokes Legends Tour and I tried to mix it up with a couple of qualifying schools and all-in-all it was a very busy time,” Long said.
“I enjoyed every minute of it; but it was quite tiring, so it’s been quite nice to actually have a couple of months there where I haven’t done a lot. We’re just starting to wind up now for the rest of the year, so I’m looking forward to it and I’m feeling quite rested going into the second half of the year.”
In the opening round of the WA PGA Championship, Long will be joined by former PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner and WA local Jarrod Moseley as well as PGA Tour winner Peter Lonard: a pair that infamously tied to win the 2002 Australian PGA Championship after play was suspended due to darkness.
When they take to the course at 11:50am on Thursday for round one of the championship, Long will be ready for the test.
“The older I’m getting the longer the course seems to get. To me one of the hardest things is that it’s a long golf course and sometimes a bit of patience is required.
“Then just the greens are undulating and it’s just a demanding course: it tests all parts of your game. Your driving, your irons into the green and then once you get onto the green it’s just the putting and trying to get the ball into the hole.
“In Kalgoorlie, it’s a mixture of knowing when to take your opportunities because it is a demanding golf course; it is long, and knowing when to attack and when to take your medicine and move onto the next hole is important.”
As a two-time winner of the WA PGA Championship, a decade apart in 2008 and 2018, Long will relish the opportunity to return as defending champion.
“I think it’s one of the things that I really look forward to, not only winning but in the next year you come back as defending champion and you get the chance to do it all over again. I really do enjoy the challenge of defending again and playing the course again. It’s not extra pressure, I just enjoy it.”
While back-to-back championships are something the 51-year-old is yet to achieve, Long insists there is no extra pressure to win again.
“It’s something I’ve never done in my career but I’d love to. Why not, it’s a wonderful opportunity to try to go back-to-back. I think it’s one of the nice things about defending; you’re the only person there that week that can do it, so you might as well give it a crack.”
All professionals will also have the chance to win a $A50,000 gold nugget if they are able to ace the eighth on Saturday and Sunday, and a $A50,000 Subaru vehicle on the 13th hole on Sunday.
The TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship tees off on Thursday at Kalgoorlie Golf Course with the winner to be decided on Sunday. The final two rounds will be live-streamed on PGA TV from 12pm (AWST) on Saturday and 10am on Sunday.