QUEENSLAND visitor Wayne Perske will use this week’s Victorian PGA Championship in Creswick to launch his comeback onto the professional golfing circuit.
Perske, who hasn’t featured in a tournament since he was convicted for cocaine possession while playing in Japan in 2010 and banned from the sport, won a spot in the $130,000 event via yesterday’s pre-qualifier at Buninyong.
The 37-year-old shot a one-under round of 71 to finish equal second for the day behind winner Chris Hynes. In total, 19 professionals qualified into the field of 132 for the championships, which get underway on Thursday.
Perske, who has only recently picked up the clubs again after some 18 months without a hit, said it was exciting to be back competing.
“It was a little bit scary coming back after a couple of years off, but it was good to be back out playing and have the nerves pumping,” Perske said.
“I feel nervous and excited. I feel like I’m starting off again. I’ve had to go and work as a real estate agent for the last couple of years, which I still do.
“I feel excited and like a kid again. I’m back where I started in 2000.”
Perske said he was a long way from reaching top form, but believed he still had what it takes to win the 2013 edition of the Victorian PGA Championship.
“It’s not out of my reach to win a tournament now.
“I’ve played on the world stage and I’ve got that fire in the belly again,” he said.
“I’m a fair way off. I still strike the ball quite well, but my short game needs a bit of fine tuning so that will be the focus in these next few days, just trying to get my putting and chipping back in order.”
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Perske, a winner of the 2006 Token Homemate Cup in Japan, spent 25 days in a Japanese prison when he was caught in possession of cocaine in 2010.
He was subsequently convicted on drugs charges and handed an 18-month suspended sentence before returning to Australia.
He now plans on returning to golf full-time, with the Australian Open, Australian PGA and Australian Masters his major targets this year.
“This year will be a working year where I get back into the grind of it,” he said.
“The goal is to get back playing full-time so I can earn a living out of it and the rest of the stuff can sort itself out.”
The build-up to the Victorian PGA Championship continues today with a pro-am at Forest Resort.
VICTORIAN PGA PRE-QUALIFIERS
Chris Hynes (Vic) 70, Mitchell Brown (NSW) 71, Wayne Perske (QLD) 71, Daniel Valente (Vic) 72, Michael Foster (WA) 72, Todd Nicholson (Vic) 72, Peter Poposki (Vic) 72, Matthew Buff (Vic) 73, Josh Lancaster (Vic) 73, Matthew Criss (NSW) 73, Paul Buchanan (QLD) 73, Nathan Uebergang (QLD) 74, Brock Gillard 74, Alex Benjamin (Vic) 74, Matt Dowling (Vic) 74, Ben Patten (Vic) 74, Kevin Quigley (Vic) 75, Raffael Toperoso (Vic) 75, Tim Frazer (NSW) 75.
Victorian PGA entries, draw page 27