[PHOTO: Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images]

He knows little of the golf course and has played one competitive round this year, yet Cameron Percy believes he can make an immediate impression on the over-50s circuit at this week’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

Medallist at PGA Tour Champions Qualifying School last December – where fellow Aussies Steve Allan, David Bransdon and Michael Wright claimed three of the other four cards on offer – Percy is one of 14 Aussies teeing it up at Harbor Shores in Michigan.

Only the United States has a greater representation in a field where four-time PGA Legends Tour Order of Merit winner Brad Burns and Wisconsin-based PGA professional Mick Smith join Stuart Appleby, Richard Green, Rod Pampling, Scott Hend and others in flying the Australian flag.

Percy now joins them, having celebrated his 50th birthday on May 5 with a first-time visit to the Kentucky Derby. And, just like his fortunes at Churchill Downs – “Mystik Dan won at 20-1 and we backed it like we owned it” – Percy hopes to make it first time lucky in senior company.

Although he has been denied starts in PGA Tour events since the RSM Classic last November, Percy has already seen where the most recent addition to the senior ranks can take his advantage.

“I basically got everything out of my body that I could, but the young guys just hit it so far now. I’m just so far behind,” Percy admitted of his final year playing the PGA Tour.

“I played in a US Senior Open qualifier a week ago and I was 60, 70 yards ahead of my playing partners most times. That’s a huge advantage to me.

“I’ve watched the Champions tour a bit on TV and the par 5s are 500-520 yards long; that’s a par 4 now on the PGA Tour. Hopefully I’m going to be the one hitting it a bit further than some other guys and have shorter clubs in. That’s going to help me for sure once I get out there.”

Percy is an alternate for the US Senior Open after shooting 69 in the one-round qualifier and missing out in a playoff to Mario Tiziani.

It’s an insight to the standard of his play with very limited practice and next to no strength work in the gym since contracting Long COVID four years ago.

His practice regime has been structured around the coaching he does at Wakefield High School where his son is a member of the golf team.

The Victorian, who now calls Raleigh in North Carolina home, knows his short game needs to be sharpened and his regimen needs greater intensity. There is also a familiarity with life on tour that needs to be re-established.

He has already leant on close friend Greg Chalmers to gauge the standard of competition he can expect but knows that there is a learning curve he must expedite if he is to be one of the 36 Champions tour players to keep their card at season’s end.

“I speak to Greg Chalmers a lot. We’re very close and he qualified for a few events and finished top 10,” Percy said.

“I said, ‘Oh, how did you play? Did you play unbelievable?’ He goes, ‘Cameron, I actually didn’t play that good, but I’m so far ahead of everyone with distance off the tee that you’ve just got to play decent. If you play great, you’re going to be contending to win.’

“To be honest, I still haven’t gotten onto everything. I don’t know where everything is and which airport to fly into. It’s pretty weird. I’m still trying to get my head around everything.”

But, given he has missed the first 10 events and the 36th-ranked player on the moneylist has already banked close to $US200,000, time is of the essence. As the Q-School medallist, Percy is exempt for all tournaments except the majors, and he knows the simplest way to start moving up the Order of Merit.

“Winning is definitely something I’m looking at doing,” said Percy, who has made 220 starts on the PGA Tour, losing in a playoff (to a hole-in-one!) at the Las Vegas event in 2010.

“Unfortunately there was a big event, the Insperity Invitational, I got in because I won Q-School but it was the week before I turned 50 so I never got to play it.

“I just think if I play well enough, I should be up there and give myself a chance to win.”

The full list of Australians teeing it up this week is: Steve Allan, Stuart Appleby, Greg Chalmers, David Bransdon, Brad Burns, Richard Green, Scott Hend, Mark Hensby, David McKenzie, Rod Pampling, Cameron Percy, John Senden, Mick Smith and Michael Wright. Kiwis Michael Campbell and Michael Long are also in the field.