A Queenslander now coaching college golf in the US has put a long professional absence aside to show up a host of his fulltime peers at the $10 million Byron Nelson Classic in Texas
Little known Stuart Deane, playing his first US PGA Tour event since 2014, and only the 11th of a brief and unsuccessful professional career outside Australia, shot an even-par round of 70 in tough conditions with a student acting as his caddie.
Deane, who is the director of golf at the University of Texas at Arlington, qualified for his first PGA Tour event since 2014 by winning the Joyce Crane/Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company Section Championship.
The 44-year-old’s career before that extended to just 10 PGA Tour events between 2008 and 2014, the last being 2014 US PGA which he qualified for as a teaching professional.
Deane bankrolled his unsuccessful previous stint in the big time by winning $1 million in a TV tournament in the Carribean, funded by US President Donald Trump.
After so long off the circuit Deane doesn’t have a world ranking and his caddie was Welsh Amateur champ Zach Galliford, a senior at UTA.
But after carding his even-par round in tough conditions Deane finished tied for 41st, better than players including countrymen Geoff Ogilvy and Matt Jones (both 3-over), and is only another steady round away from the making the cut.
“When I walked in (the scoring tent), the PGA official said `hey there Stuart. Haven’t seen you in a while.’ He made a joke that about every three years I play in the Nelson, which is about right,” Deane said after his opening round, watched by a big crew from UTA.
“It was a really nice day. I started off, obviously, a little nervous. I hadn’t played in (a PGA Tour event) in a few years,”
“Having the whole crew following today was fun, no doubt about it. Having friends and family and such great school support is awesome. It really is cool.
Of his 10 previous PGA tour appearances, which earned him a grand total of around $37,000, three came at the Byron Nelson.
This time around Deane is competing against a field including world number one Dustin Johnson and fellow Aussie Jason Day.
Returning to the scene of his first US PGA Tour victory, Day battled strong, gusty afternoon winds to be well-placed after the opening round.
Day posted a two-under 68 despite four bogeys and joined fellow Australians Marc Leishman and Greg Chalmers in a tie for 14th, four shots behind American joint leaders James Hahn and Ricky Barnes.
Rod Pampling was best of the other Australians at one-under, with Deane even-par, while, Brett Drewitt (two over), Cameron Percy, Geoff Ogilvy and Matt Jones (all three over), Stuart Appleby (six over) and Steve Bowditch (10 over) all have ground to survive the cut.
Bowditch’s ugly round featured two triple bogeys, one double bogey and four bogeys.
Originally published asLittle-known Aussie putting world’s best to shame
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