News & Opinion

Lonard’s new life: Senior golf, father’s daze

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Curveballs are part of life. When one comes your way, the ability to handle it and not whiff is the key.

For Peter Lonard, 50, the spinner came with the birth of a baby daughter, Yvonne, eight months ago in his hometown of Sydney, Australia.

With the unplanned but much welcomed birth, Lonard finds that his career plans as a senior golfer are not what he had anticipated. The struggle of raising a newborn with his wife, Ali, and trying to get enough sleep, is now more important than making a 4-footer.

“I don't know really what I'm doing,” Lonard said of his immediate career plans after shooting 5-under 66 for a share of the first-round lead Thursday in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Golf Club at Harbor Shores (scores). For Lonard, it was his first competitive round in the U.S. since December, when he tied for 23rd at the Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament, failing to earn status on the 50-and-older tour.

“It doesn't help my senior aspirations, and my life has changed considerably,” Lonard said. “What I was thinking I was going to do 12 months ago has changed a lot.”

Lonard’s warm-up for this week consisted of playing in the 100th New Zealand Open in March, when he finished T-38. He played in a four-ball match at his home club in Australia and then hurt his right elbow on the range after learning that he had received an invitation into this week’s Senior PGA.

“I got news that I was in the tournament,” he said. “I got very excited and went out and hit a few too many golf balls, and my elbow was blown out. So, yesterday was the first time I played 18 holes since they told me I was in, and that was probably two days ago. I was just hoping not to make an idiot of myself, and so far, so good.”

Lonard made five birdies in a bogey-free round, which should boost his confidence for the rest of the week.

Lonard, a nine-time winner on the Australasian Tour and two-time Presidents Cup participant, won his only PGA Tour event in 2005, at Hilton Head. He holds fully exempt status on the Staysure Tour, Europe’s senior tour, and hopes to qualify for a few tournaments in the U.S. in hopes of finding a home tour.

At some point, fatherhood must fit into his schedule.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lonard said, laughing. “They don't sleep. The first two or three weeks was like, What did we do? But now I think it's improving. But, you know, it's good fun. It's great seeing her. She's starting to get a bit of a personality. Now I can see a few of my poor traits in her already, so hopefully we can get them out of her by the time she's old enough.”

Which trait sticks out?

“She's a little stubborn,” Lonard said, chuckling. “When she doesn't want to do it, she's not doing it, and she's only 8 months old. So, it's going to be a rocky road at some stage, I'm sure, fixing that. But, no, it's a blessing, albeit a bit of a shock.”

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli