Richard Green celebrates 20 years in Europe with 65
Richard Green set about celebrating his 20th season competing on the European Tour by putting himself well in contention on day one of the Porsche European Open at Bad Griesbach to the east of Munich in Germany.
Green didn’t drop a shot in a six-under par 65 to be one shot from the lead but also under a preferred lie rule in effect for the four rounds of the €2 million event.
Richard Green with his 2015 Victorian Open trophy (Credit: PGA Australia)
The owner of two Porsche’s, including a 996 GTS racing version, felt right at home in a tournament back on the Tour schedule for the first time since 2009 and sponsored by the same German car maker.
Green’s 20-year loyalty to the European Tour has extended over 400 tournaments since making his debut in 1996 as a then 25-year old.
In that period, he’s also earned just short of €10 million in Tour prize-money and enough to fuel his race car passion.
Green has enjoyed many highs in his career starting by shocking the golf world in denying Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam a play-off victory in the 1997 Dubai Desert Classic.
He’s had three other victories on the European Tour along with capturing the 2004 Mastercard Masters and at Huntingdale where he honed his skill in the ancient club-and-ball game.
Many will forget Green was fourth in the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie while no one will forget his incredible par four ace early last year that kicked off a bunker rake during the Victorian Open Pro-Am.
“I’ve had a great European Tour career and to have remained competitive in what is my 20th year on the Tour has been very pleasing,” he said.
“I am still fit enough so hopefully I can keep pressing on for a few more years to come.”
But when asked if he ever regretted not competing on the PGA Tour there is one event that still eats at the heart of the now Norway-based Aussie.
“I had the opportunity in 2005 to earn my card on the PGA Tour as I was leading The Memorial and let the chance of capturing the tournament slip through my very hands,” he said.
“It was the last round and I was standing on the 15th tee enjoying a one shot lead but then found my emotions and the pressure of leading get the better of me and I was steam-rolled shooting a round of 70 and finishing six shots behind in a share of eighth place.”
“It was a tough pill to swallow and it still hurts thinking about it 10 years on.”
But then as can so often happen to professional golfers, Green injured his back in the simple act of lifting a suitcase.
“I played the next two events after The Memorial but then I injured my back and didn’t play again for about a month,” he said.
“It was as easy as that but I just could not play and looking back it was such a shame.”
“If I hadn’t of had the injury I could have joined the likes of John Senden and carved out a pretty good career over there in the States.”
“But then I have really enjoyed my career over here in Europe and I’ve enjoyed the life style travelling about Europe to different destinations.”
So much so that Green spends the European Tour season based in Norway while he and his Norwegian-born fiancee Marianne Skarpnord jointly own a house at Thirteenth Beach.
And it was on the Thirteenth Beach course earlier this year the pair shared a rare and fairytale golfing moment with twin Victorian Open triumphs.
Skarpnoud was first to win the women’s tournament and an hour later she watched nervously as her future husband birdied the second extra play-off hole to win the men’s tournament.
And Green enjoyed another first last week lining up on the grid in Norway in his beloved #63 Porsche GTS 996, numbered after his lowest score in Europe, and in the Norwegian Porcshe Car Club series.
“I had been thinking about it for some time but last week was my first official car race in Norway,” said the long-time Valvoline-based Aussie.
“It was a last minute decision and I had a great time so much so I am going to contest the full Norwegian championship next year.”
“It only entails four races at this stage and there’s no prize money as everyone just races for fun, so I should be able to map out my 2016 schedule to fit in the four races and hopefully they just don’t fall on weeks of the bigger events in Europe.”
“But I got such a buzz out of last week and with everyone involved, including the fellow race drivers, all welcoming me with open arms.”
“And I was still pretty competitive finishing eighth from a starting field of 22 cars and that was with no experience of ever having raced before on that track.”
“So hopefully, I can do better next year when I commit to the four events in the championship.”