Two years ago, Lonard made an outstanding debut in senior golf when 3rd behind Bernhard Langer and Corey Pavin at the 2017 Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl just a few days after his 50th birthday but he has been unable to build on that since.
Last week, Lonard was required to qualify for the Senior Open Championship at Royal Lytham and missed out by one shot on gaining a start in the event which, given the form he has shown to date this week, must have been quite a blow.
In typical Lonard style, however, he has put that behind him and begun his very first start on the regular European Staysure Tour impressively with rounds of 67 and 64 to share the lead with Welshman Philip Price, whose final nine of 30 saw him catch Lonard late in the day.
With 13 birdies and an eagle in his opening 36 holes, Lonard has displayed the sort of game that saw him win consecutive Australian Opens in 2003 and 2004 and the Heritage Classic on the PGA Tour in 2005.
“It was quite enjoyable for once,” he said. “Yesterday I got a little lucky and shot three-under but didn’t really play that well. Today I drove it on the fairways which gave me a lot of chances and I played pretty well.
“I hit all the greens on the front nine. I was putting really well and holed a couple of putts. On the back nine I only missed one green and didn’t get up-and-down, which was a bit disappointing, but I holed some good putts when I needed to. The course is as benign as it was going to be today, so I figured it was possible to shoot a good score.
“All of us have been around the block for a long time and we know there is a long way to go. We’re all good mates and some of the European Tour guys I met 30 plus years ago.
“It’s a great opportunity this week to; number one – play, number two – play for some money, and number three – catch up with some of the guys I’ve known for years.”
Unable to qualify for the PGA Tour Champions in two attempts, Lonard has continued to play both Regular and Senior tour events in Australia and New Zealand but this would be his first very first start in the UK on the Staysure Senior Tour, gaining a start this week as a result of his career money when playing the European Tour in the 1990's.
Price is a well credentialed former Ryder Cup player who has won three times on the European Tour and once on the Staysure Tour. His finishing burst after a slow start to day swept him into the lead along with Lonard and tomorrow they will play the third round with another Australian David McKenzie.
McKenzie who, like Lonard, started his Senior Tour career at the 2017 Senior Open Championship, is one shot behind the leaders after a round of 69 was added to his opening 65.
McKenzie finished 9th in the event at Royal Porthcawl and managed to gain access to the PGA Tour Champions in the US via a series of good finishes and Monday qualifying for events.
He has continued to play well including when an impressive 5th place at last week’s Senior Open Championship and is currently in 42nd place in the PGA Tour Champions standings.
New Zealander Michael Campbell shares 9th place although six shots from the leaders, New Zealand based Australian Peter Fowler is another shot back while Peter O’Malley and New Zealander Greg Turner are tied for 30th.
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