Doug Johnson is hoping to provide a swansong for his career as he targets a place in the season-ending MCB Tour Championship in Mauritius, after announcing that he will retire at the end of the 2011 season.
This week’s Belas Clube de Campo Senior Open de Portugal is only Johnson’s eighth Senior Tour appearance this year but he is now determined to finish well in Portugal to help earn himself a flight to Mauritius in December.
It would be a fitting end to a long career and he took one small step towards that goal at Belas Clube de Campo, just outside Lisbon, with a superb five under par round of 67.
The American held the clubhouse lead briefly during the first round after a flawless start, carding three birdies in a three under par front nine of 33, followed by birdies at the 10th and 11th before cruising home to a five under par round of 67.
“This is my 11th year playing senior golf,” said the 61 year old, “I’ve played the Champions Tour for five and half years and then the Senior Tour for five and half and even though I think I can still play, it’s time I go and do other things with my life.
“This is fun, the competition is fun but it’s the travel that gets you and I'm pretty much set to retire now. My wife and I have been on the road non-stop and we need to have a life now.
“I've got so many interests I haven’t been able to do them because I've been playing non-stop for 37 years, my wife’s caddied for me for 30 years or so, on the PGA Tour and then into my senior career but we’re getting older now.
“It’s always important to play well," he continued, "but knowing that this is one of my last tournaments, it was even more important to me to play well, because I don’t want to go out remembering a mediocre tournament. “
The 51 year old made a fairytale return to professional golf and the Senior Tour in the 2009 season ten months after a horrific accident in which he suffered severe burns when the carburettor of a van he was trying to fix exploded, leaving him in hospital for 21 days with his life hanging in the balance.
But he was back in form and rolling back the years at Belas Clube de Campo on the first day and he was delighted with his 67.
“It was one of those great rounds that you’ll remember forever," Johnson said. "I was never looking at a bogey until 18 and even then I hit the most beautiful shot but it was just too much club so that was the only pickle I was in.
“I've played a lot of great rounds but haven’t finished top five, but this is one my last tournaments so it’s a big one.
“This course is a great test, you have to be thinking uphill and then downhill puitts so it’s a great management-type courses, one of the better we’ve played because the way you have to shape the ball around the course. That always makes a good golf course, it’s tight.
“I must also mention the hospitality which has been afforded to me here this week though. It has really helped my game, all the guys at Belas have been great, especially the club professional Keith Barrett so I have to thank them too.”
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