Golf: Turner feels like a rookie

Greg Turner
Greg Turner
On the eve of his first New Zealand Open in 10 years, Greg Turner looks excited to be back on the tournament golf scene.

The 49-year-old is in the early stages of a comeback as he eyes a spot on the European Senior Tour next year, which he will be eligible for when he turns 50 in February.

Turner, who retired from tournament golf in 2004 to spend more time with his family, has since forged a career as a course designer.

He recently played in the Harewood Open on the Charles Tour, finishing in a tie for 25th, and this week's tournament at Clearwater is another step in his golfing renaissance.

"I feel like a rookie again," he said. "It wasn't part of the overall plan a few years ago but it is a bit like riding a bike. You get back on and feel at home.

"I'm sure I'll be a bit nervous on the first tee but I always was anyway.

"I don't have too many expectations other than to know a bit more at the end of the week than at the start."

Turner shared his pre-tournament press conference with Australian pro Peter O'Malley and two of the oldest players in the field enjoyed a couple of jokes about their respective red wine consumption during the week.

"I stayed away from the bottle of shiraz that 'Pom' brought last night so I'm feeling quite good," Turner said.

But, jokes aside, Turner, who won four times on the European Tour between 1986 and 1997, said it will still came down to putting a little white ball in a hole this week.

"It's the same game. The equipment is a bit different to what it was 10 years ago and the ball goes further; these young guys are a bit stronger and taller than they used to be. But at the end of the day it's just you and the golf course.

"It's been 10 years but I don't feel out of my depth. That might change tomorrow night."

The last time Turner played at the New Zealand Open was at Paraparaumu Beach in 2002 when Tiger Woods was paid a massive appearance fee to tee it up.

Obviously the calibre of entrants is a lot lower this year and Turner will walk the fairways with golfers who are young enough to be his son, but few in the field boast more top-level experience than him.

Turner is a two-time former winner of the Open - he etched his name on the trophy in 1989 and 1997 - and it would cap an impressive return to the game if he could create history and win again at Clearwater this week.