Greg Chalmers with his 2014 trophy – photo Bruce Young
2011 and 2014 Australian PGA Champion Greg Chalmers is about to make just his second genuine attempt at tournament golf in the last eighteen months and if today’s press conference at RACV Royal Pines is anything to go by then he is certainly expecting more than was the case at the Australian Open just two weeks ago.
Chalmers has been kept from the game in that time by serious health issues and at his return at the Australian Open he produced a remarkable week to finish 5th after a horror start to the week.
“I’m actually really excited,” said Chalmers. “I’ve had 18 months off, had arthritis in my spine and every joint in my lumbar spine, tore a ligament in my spine. So right around ‑‑ took a while to get diagnosed correctly, but I hadn’t played seriously for 18 months.
“I did play last year down here, but that was more just to see after six months if I could play, and I couldn’t. So I got it fixed this year and I think I was 4 over after nine at the Australian Open.
“It was pretty much what I expected, a lot of rubbish and a lot of rust, but wiped it off quickly. Four under on the back nine and went on to finish tied fifth. I’ve got a lot of energy about me, about my golf right now, and I’m really looking forward. It’s been a great break. Been around my family and now I’m very keen to be playing and excited.”
Chalmers won at RACV Royal Pines in 2014 when the layout was in the middle of a full transformation, only half of the 18 holes completed when he defeated Adam Scott and Wade Ormsby in a playoff to win the event for the second time.
He has played since but today made reference to the fact that the golf course continues to improve and mature and he is liking what he sees of the golf course now compared to the early stages of its restoration.
He is also complimentary as to how the PGA Tour of Australasia is setting up golf courses in recent years and feels that will play a role on Royal Pines’ continued development as a tournament layout.
Chalmers has been working with former two-time Australian Masters Champion and Presidents Cup player, Brad Hughes, in recent times, Hughes beginning to build a reputation as a coach resurrecting careers including that of recent PGA Tour winner Brendon Todd who has won twice in his last three starts on the PGA Tour after not having won for five years and almost giving the game away.
“I went to Brad about two and a half years ago and I was still ‑‑ two or three years ago and I was struggling with my back, but I was struggling with my game more than anything else. Still trying to play even though my back wasn’t great.
“I said, look, I don’t have time to rebuild the ark, I have a shorter window here, can you help me with my ball‑striking without me taking years to get that done? He said absolutely, I’ve taken a look at what you’re doing. He said I think I can help you.
“The ball‑striking’s improved. Been at it for a while now with him. Pretty simple stuff but very effective, a lot of getting better use out of my feet and my groundwork, and then better position with my hands and path with the club through the ball. So, it’s led to better ball‑striking and that’s important for me. If I can strike it even marginally better with my short game, it’s going to see some good results, so I’m excited about the future.”
Because of his health issues, Chalmers get another chance on the PGA Tour in 2020 and is excited about the prospect of what lies ahead despite now being into the rundown to playing senior golf.
“I’ve got seven starts left on a medical and so I’m hoping to start that in late January. That’s my expectation right now, play my seven. And depending on when I finish, though, and how I play, I could get four or five more starts, you know, in Reno, for example, or Barbasol or John Deere.
“There’s some events that will pop up along the way so I could get 10 to 12 starts, which starting in January, you’re looking at maybe two starts a month, which wouldn’t be too bad for me after having 18 months off.
“Depending on how I go, I’m exempt into the Playoffs to get your card back on the Korn Ferry, so I’ve got those three playoff events placed on previous performance. That’s how my year frames out at the moment.”
Chalmers has been one of the more prolific winner of major titles in Australia in recent times with a Players Championship, two Australian Opens and two Australian PGA Championships to his name.
It might be a bit much to expect that to improve this week at this stage of his recovery but if he can replicate his last 63 holes at the Australian Golf Club two weeks ago then he is not without hope.