Roy Wegerle was privileged to play in front of a full house at Wembley Stadium as one of America’s top footballers. Yet for sheer nervous tension the bedlam of the 1989 League Cup final against Nottingham Forest paled into insignificance compared to Tuesday’s pre-qualifier for the 2002 dunhill championship.
Wegerle, 37, born in South Africa and capped 41 times by the United States, has discovered a new found fame far from the terraces at clubs such as Chelsea, Luton and Queens Park Rangers.
With a round of 69 at Zwartkop Country Club, Wegerle became a rarity in professional sport – a top class athlete who has managed to succeed at two different sports. Now, the Florida-based player can tee it up with established stars such as Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in the first round at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg.
He said: “I got to play at Wembley once, and not many guys can say that. But, you know, coming down the last two holes of the qualifying round yesterday I think I was more nervous than I was playing at Wembley. It’s a whole new experience and it’s come as a bit of a shock to me.”
Wegerle retired from international football after the 1998 World Cup finals in France and worked feverishly to bring his handicap down from “about ten or 12” to plus three. He became professional six months ago after winning $4000 in the USA and tried – unsuccessfully – to get into some Buy.Com Tour events by Monday qualifying.
“My plan is to try the US Tour School next November” he said. “I have no regrets about my football career. Now I want to see where this golfing expedition will take me.”