Lonard Tries to Win Aussie Grand Slam


The buzz everywhere in Australia this week is Peter Lonard trying to make a clean sweep of the Australian Grand Slam when he goes after the MasterCard Masters in Melbourne (Rd. 1 TGC, Thurs. at 12:30 a.m. ET).
The Grand Slam is composed of three events, the Australian Open, the Australian PGA and this one. Lonard already has won the Aussie Open and the PGA.
It will be nice to do it (win the Grand Slam), but I don't think my life depends on it,' he said. 'Pressure-wise, I don't think it's that big a deal. Maybe with nine holes to go and if I'm in with a chance, my heart might be pumping a bit quicker than normal. But outside that, it's just normal.'
Lonard, despite winning the past two weeks, will not have a chance to win the Australian Order of Merit (money title). He did not play in four tournaments as required because of a rib injury which kept him from the Heineken Classic early in the year. He found out earlier this week that the Australian PGA has disallowed his request for a medical exemption.
So now he will have to be content with the knowledge that he will almost certainly win the money title, be it official or not. Unfortunately for Lonard, the winner of the Aussie Order of Merit is automatically invited to the U.S. and British Opens.
Lonard missed the cut in 11 of 23 events in the U.S. this year. But his swing is starting to return to what he wants it to be.
'My ball-striking has been pretty ordinary all year and it's just starting to come back,' he said. 'Two or three months ago I started to get on the right track. Even though I was missing cuts, you still know when you're on the verge (of improving).
Robert Allenby is the events defending champion. And he says Lonard will have a tough time making in three in a row.
'He's played very well the last three weeks, but it's a lot harder for him to win this tournament than anyone else because of the pressure that's actually on him to try to win four in a row and three of the big ones on the main tour,' Allenby said. 'But he's won here before, he knows the place. He's definitely the one to beat.'
No golfer has won the Aussie Grand Slam since its inception in 1979.
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