Tuesday, February 28, 2012


NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE EUROPEAN TOURIt has been nearly 12 years since Stephen McAllister last dedicated himself to competitive golf, but the two-time winner on the European Tour is determined to make up for lost time as he prepares to resume his playing career on the European Senior Tour. 
The Scot, who turned 50 on February 16, admits he has some rust to shake off before the 2012 season begins, having spent the last decade running corporate golf days and launching Mearns Castle Golf Academy, near Glasgow.
McAllister has been easing himself back into the game with appearances on the Tartan Tour in his homeland over the past year, and he hopes he can turn back the clock and rediscover the kind of form that led to his two European Tour victories in 1990, in the Atlantic Open and the KLM Dutch Open, en route to a career best finish of 19th on the Money List.
“When I ended my playing career in 2000 I always knew I was going to join the Senior Tour, but I can’t believe how quickly it has come around,” said McAllister. “The older you get, the quicker things seem to happen.
“It’s an exciting time though. I’m under no illusion that it will be asy, but I am really looking forward to it. I know it will be a marathon rather than a sprint.
“I’ve played a lot more in Scotland over the past year with the younger lads to see how high the bar is set, which was good experience for me. I’ve also been working on my fitness as much as I can, and I have a few golfing trips lined up to Dubai, Portugal and Atlanta. But obviously it is different when you have a card in your pocket.
“I feel as though the competitive edge is coming back though. I’ve not put my clubs down all winter, and I feel as though I have kept switched on mentally.”
Encouragingly for the Paisley-born golfer, there are several precedents of successful returns for players who have taken protracted breaks between concluding their European Tour careers and joining the Senior Tour.
Australian Mike Harwood, a five-time European Tour winner, emerged from a similar hiatus to McAllister to win the Senior Tour Championship in 2009, also claiming the Rookie of the Year award that season; while Carl Mason spent more than four years out the game, including a spell as a Senior Tour Rules Official, before going on to become the most successful player in the Senior Tour’s history.
“I actually spoke to Mike when I went to Mauritius in December to play in the Pro-Am, and he seemed a lot more relaxed than when we were on Tour,” he said. “For some players you have a shelf life and a period away from the game, doing something else, which allows you to freshen up. I’ve enjoyed what I have done away from the game.
“The academy started as a drawing on my kitchen table, and it was satisfying to see that happen and watch it grow but the majority of my life has been playing competitive golf, and I’m looking forward to doing that again.”
Whether McAllister, who lost his European Tour card in 1997 and finished his career in 2000, can follow in the spike marks of Harwood remains to be seen, but he has vowed to make the most of his second chance.
“When I lost my playing rights way back, I thought it was a bit premature,” he said. “I think I lost my desire to dig in at that point. I felt like I was doing everything I could do, but it was still not happening. I kept hitting the crossbar.
“That makes you lose some desire. Looking back, if it was a school report you’d say my career was above average. I had the highs and lows you have as a player, from winning twice to then struggling to keep my card three or four years later.
“Hopefully, having experienced those highs and lows, I will now be better placed to deal with the emotional ride and maybe I will come back more level-headed.”
McAllister is among a group of former European Tour champions who will join the Senior Tour in 2012, with Malcolm MacKenzie, Philip Walton, Miguel Angel Martin and Philip Golding also eligible for the new season.
He also joins a strong Scottish contingent already playing on the Senior Tour, which includes two-time Major Champion Sandy Lyle, 2002 European Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance, Andrew Oldcorn – who finished third on last year’s Order of Merit – and former Ryder Cup player Gordon Brand Jnr.
One of the highlights of the campaign for that group of players will be The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, which returns to Scotland’s west coast and the iconic Ailsa Course at Turnberry, and McAllister is relishing the chance to compete in another Major Championship.
“You read about Tom Watson, Tom Lehman and other players talking about The Senior Open Championship as our Open Championship and it is certainly one I’m looking forward to,” said McAllister.
“Being exempt is a huge bonus and with it being in Scotland, at Turnberry, I would love to play well. For me though, every tournament is going to be a major event. I just need to make sure that I am prepared and committed.”



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