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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 19:13 GMT
Roy of the golf course
Roy Wegerle
Wegerle tees off during his opening round
Former QPR and Chelsea striker Roy Wegerle was a happy man after completing his first round as a professional golfer on Thursday.

Wegerle fired a four-over-par 76 at the Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg after swapping his football boots for golf spikes.

The former US international, who represented his country in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, qualified on Tuesday for the US$735,900 (500,000) event.

And despite falling back after an opening-hole birdie, Wegerle was encouraged by his first taste of his new profession.

"I was happy with the way things went, although I could have done a lot better," he said.


There is no-one trying to break my leg - it is a lot more civilized than football
Roy Wegerle

"It just wasn't a good day today. But hopefully I will do a lot better tomorrow."

Wegerle admitted that he suffered a few jitters before making his professional bow.

"I was a little nervous on the first tee but I birdied the first hole hole and that calmed me right down," he said.

"After that it was reasonably plain sailing."

Wegerle gained one of four qualifying places for the event after firing a four-under-par 68 to finish joint third at the Zwartkop Country Club on Tuesday.

And even after one professional round, the 37-year-old believes he has found a new home for himself on the golf course.

Roy Wegerle
Wegerle in action for the USA

"There is no-one trying to break my leg or break my nose," he quipped.

"It is a lot more civilized than football. As an older man now, I think this will suit me very well."

Wegerle was born in nearby Pretoria, but qualified to play football for the US through his wife.

He made 230 league appearances in his footballing career.

During 11 seasons in England, he played for Chelsea, Luton, QPR, Blackburn and Coventry, and also for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the US.

He is best remembered for his time at Loftus Road between December 1989 and March 1992, when he scored 29 goals in 75 games.

Fast progress

"I would probably play golf about three or four times year as a footballer," Wegerle added.

"I could always hit a golf ball but I never really knew what the game was all about."

It was only when Wegerle retired from football three years ago that he started to concentrate on golf.

"I joined a golf club and this is where I ended up," he added. "I am just as shocked as everybody else.

"My progress was pretty quick from 10 down to a two or three handicap. I played in one event on a Celebrity Tour in America and won a bit of money, and that made me a professional.

"I always felt I was within touching distance of some of these guys. But I didn't expect to get here this quickly. I'm just happy to be involved and see where it leads."

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Former QPR and Chelsea striker Roy Wegerle
"I was happy with the way things went, but I could have done better"
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