Aussie golfer Wayne Perske's on the road to redemption
WAYNE Perske picked up a cheque for $A569.25 after finishing tied for 42nd in last week's Papua New Guinea Open, but the money was not important.
The 38-year-old Queenslander never thought he would play professionally again after he spent 25 days in a Japanese prison in 2010 after being caught in possession of a small amount of cocaine in a bar in Chiba, not far from Tokyo.
He was given an 18-month suspended sentence, was banned by from playing on the Japan Golf Tour, something he had done for seven years, and was also given a two-year exclusion by the Australian PGA when he arrived home in Brisbane.
Without status on any tour, Perske, a father of two young children, walked away from the game he loved, and had played professionally since 2000, but came to despise as he battled depression and homesickness.
"I had no interest whatsoever in playing golf for a good two years after what happened in Japan. I just did not want anything to do with it," said Perske, who played in the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool.
"There was more to life than golf."
With his golf career seemingly over, Perske was determined to make up for lost time with his young family, which had seen him spend up to six weeks away from home, and he has done.
He was also enjoying a successful stint of selling real estate when the got the 'itch'.
He spent yesterday clearing out his desk and is ready to make his comeback inside the ropes, on the road to redemption as he calls it.
And the prospect of going through the long process of trying to qualify for Australian events he's played in the past including the Open, Masters, and PGA, does not scare him.
"Mate, I have no expectations. I'm just happy to back playing. I don't care the what the prize money is," said Perske, who once bought a home for cash after earning $A255,000 for winning the 2006 Token Homeate Cup in Japan, a country where he won more than $A1.5million.
Although Perske is thrilled to be hitting the fairways again, he said he had imposed conditions on himself.
"I am not going have such a hectic schedule, one that used to see me spend so much time away from home like before - that was a huge mistake, and I paid for it," he said.
"My aim is to earn my card on the OneAsia Tour. That means playing in about 13 events.
"I couldn't bear to go through those times of having my kids hold my leg saying 'don't go daddy' again."
Perske said he had noticed there were plenty of new faces in the professional ranks since he had been in the golfing wilderness.
"I don't know a lot of them, but they know me from what happened in Japan," he said.
"I cannot change what happened in the past, but I am changed man.
"I've been to hell, and I am not going back."