The recent form of 50-year old Australian David McKenzie on the Champions Tour is an example of what can be achieved by persevering with an already lengthy career while at the same time offering an understanding just how difficult success on the Champions Tour can be.
I wouldn’t mind a dollar for every time I have heard someone say that such and such a golfer will do well in senior golf but for those who have attempted to gain access to the Champions Tour they will be fully aware just how much of a task it is.
Credit therefore must go to McKenzie who throughout his twenty-seven year professional career kept his game alive by playing wherever he could including the Australasian, Canadian, China, Nationwide and PGA Tours, winning on five occasions, the most significant perhaps being his win on the then Nationwide Tour in 2005 which eventually allowed him to graduate to the PGA Tour.
McKenzie’s most important result in Australia was arguably his playoff loss to Richard Green at the 2004 Australian Masters at Huntingdale but he continued to play regular tour golf wherever he could right up till the age of 50 and in fact still does.
His first start at Senior level was just a few days after his 50th birthday at the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl where he finished 9th against an impressive field, all of whom chased home the winner that week, Bernhard Langer.
Buoyed by the experience and relative success on debut at that level, McKenzie headed for the US and attempted to pre-qualify for several Champions Tour events and gained starts in a further five in 2017, two of which resulted in top five finishes.
The US$320,00 he won for his efforts on the 2017 Champions Tour saw him finish the season in 53rd position and although not able to advance his cause to any great degree when 12th at the Champions Tour School he had sufficient status to afford him some starts in 2018.
This past week he was playing his 4th event of the 2018 season and by finishing in a share of 3rd behind Steve Stricker at the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Mississippi he earned a cheque for US$88,000 and has moved to 30th on the Charles Schwab Money list.
30th is an important figure as by season’s end it will determine those plays who successfully retain their rights for 2019 but it appears McKenzie is already showing that his sights might be set higher than that.
The Melbourne based golfer is a great example of what playing competitively through to the age of 50 might offer in the wider world of Senior golf and if his start is anything to go by then more is to come for the man who could be considered one of the grinders of Australian golf.