Oakley sprinting toward Champions Tour finish
September 23, 2005
Pete Oakley said he has a great lesson for everyone trying to find a way to improve their golf scores, but it’s not for everyone.
In a recent interview, The Rookery’s Director of Golf, who’s finishing up his first full year on the Champions Tour, said, “Be as close to completely depressed as you can possibly be, and you’ll play a lot better.”
Apparently it’s been working for him.
Oakley explained by noting that he’d recently gone through some romantic troubles that brought him down low, while playing in Senior events on the West Coast.
“I just didn’t care if I made a putt or didn’t. I really felt despondent and down on myself. Then all of a sudden I started playing really good,” he said.
He had staggered through the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic in late August, finishing in 60th place for $2,400.
The turn-around began the next week during the JELD-WENN Tradition, the last major event on the 2005 Tour. Oakley stayed close to the leaders, playing 4-under par for the first three rounds. He came back to earth a bit with 4-over 76 in the last round, finishing in 36th place and winning $13,514.66.
Oakley learned he was fifth alternate for the next Champions Tour event, at Pebble Beach, California, but opted instead to play the European Senior Tour in England. Naturally, shortly after he landed at Heathrow the Tour office called to say he could play Pebble. Nonetheless, Oakley hung around and played the Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Course.
“It was similar to American courses—small greens, very tight fairways, and lots of elevation changes. I played with [eventual winner] Mark James on the last day and finished in fifth place, which felt great,” Oakley said. He also pocketed 13,325 Euros for his efforts, which when converted will spend nicely back here in the States.
Oakley then traveled to Copenhagen and played the Scandinavian Senior Open, finishing in 26th place on September 11, four behind his brother David. That earned him another 2,367 Euros, a nice addition to his pocketbook for his two weeks in Europe.
“That course was something. There was foot-high fescue between the fairways, and the first two days we played with amateurs. I can now find any ball anywhere, with all the practice I got looking for golf balls during those rounds,” Oakley laughed. “There were also about a thousand reindeer walking around the course, which was really strange.”
He then returned to the States for the next Champions Tour event, the Constellation Energy Classic at Hayfields Country Club, in Hunt Valley, Maryland. “I got in as the first alternate, and never hit a practice ball on the range after any round. I was hitting it really far. On the [550-yard] par-5 16th, I got on in two during the first two days. On the last day the tees were back and we were playing into the wind, and I was lucky to make par that time. Otherwise, I hit a lot of greens [in regulation] and just barely missed birdies on the last two holes.”
Oakley completed play September 18 with his best finish of the year, a tie for eighth place worth $46,750.
He’s now entered into the next two Champions Tour events, both in North Carolina, and may yet qualify for the final two regular events on that Tour before the season-ending Schwab Cup tournament, in which only the top 30 on the money list compete.
If he can improve from his current spot at 66th to the top 50, however, Oakley will be able to play in quite a few Champions events next year, even if he doesn’t win fully-exempt status at the upcoming Q-School in November.
Oakley said his recent troubles and subsequent improved play acted to remind him of what’s really important: “I just remembered to give it all into the hands of the Lord. You just shouldn’t put too much importance into what you do, compared to remembering who you are.”