A while ago I had shared an essay I wrote in college about the knee injury I had in my first professional tournament back in 2007, and the subsequent weight loss and comeback. The essay was only supposed to be about 2000 words, and since I didn’t want to write a novel about it, I was fairly vague and generalized the fact that I finished last in the two tournaments that I played in after my injury. As one may imagine, there is a lot more to the story than finishing last in those two tournaments. And, as I make my way back into playing golf competitively, I’d like to share the rest of the story that took me from competing in professional tournaments in 2008, to retiring from playing golf altogether in early 2010.
After being medically cleared to practice in March of 2008, I was eager to get back to work on the golf course. The first six weeks were tough; I played my first round on April Fools’ Day and could barely get a tee shot 10 feet off the ground. As I got closer to the start of my comeback tournament, there was always a lingering thought:
What if I blow out my knee again?
While I was in the ER after having it happen the first time, the doctor had explained how it’s more likely to happen again after it happens the first time. I did my best to eliminate these bad thoughts and focus on doing my best in a two-day event in late June.
My warm up went fine that morning. Swing felt good enough to get around a fairly simple track in South Phoenix. After my name was announced on the first tee, I could feel the jitters and the butterflies. Then the opening tee shot.
I flinched, and snap-hooked it about 150 in front of me. I made a 6 on the par-4, and took a deep breath, doing everything I could to settle myself. The second hole was a short par-5, and hit a good drive, a decent approach just short of the green. Made my first par of the day, and felt better as the round progressed.
The problems started around the sixth hole, where I began to feel fatigued, and my body rotation got lazy. The high scores kept piling up in succession, and after a dumb penalty on the final hole, where I made an eight, I don’t think I broke 100 for the round.
The second round started even worse, with a three-putt from seven feet and making a 7 after a much better opening tee-shot, and once I finished the front nine with a dismal 49, I was not in great spirits. It was at that point I decided to forget making a swing and just try to get the damn ball in the hole, resorting to a bunt-style swing to keep it somewhere where I could find it and hit it.
Par on 10 and 11, double on 12, then birdied 13 and 14, par on 15, birdie on 16, bogey on 17 and a par on 18 to go 49-36 (which could be a record on that tour for largest gap between two nines; I never asked). Those last nine holes were a huge boost, and I felt like being able to scrape it together showed that maybe I could still compete. I decided to play a one-day event the following month and see if I could put it all together.
To be continued…