This weekend I played my first Toyota Tour tournament since breaking my thumb in PE last month. The bone hasn’t healed — yet — but it set properly and the orthopedist was willing to let me replace the hard cast that kept it completely immobilized, with a soft removable brace. As long as I didn’t jam it or fall on it, I wouldn’t damage the thumb further. It would probably hurt though, she warned.
And, she was right. It did hurt to swing a club, especially my driver. But after countless hours of one-handed putting, I was willing to put up with a little pain just to get back on the course. The biggest challenge, I found when I finally played my first round in three weeks, was that I was holding back every time I swung the club — anticipating the pain, afraid I’d thin the ball and really hurt myself. I also wasn’t sure I could play a full 18 holes, let alone a two-day tournament. I’d had to shorten the amount of time I spent on the range because my wrist (which was still stiff from the cast) and thumb would get sore before I’d run out of balls.
Also, the injury had forced me to adjust my grip so I was barely holding the club with my left hand, and this threw off my distance and my control — forcing me to make other adjustments to my game. I wasn’t sure how this would play out over the course of a two-day tournament.
As it turned out, I played pretty well, all things considered — going 3 over for the weekend, ending up at number 13 on the Leaderboard, one stroke away from a Top Ten finish. My thumb hurt, especially in the morning, when it was a bit chilly (and even though the temperature eventually topped 90 degrees, I played with a hot hand in my pocket) and I did find myself backing off some of my shots. But all that one-handed putting paid off and my ability to sink some really nice putts saved me on the first day. The course was playing a little rough on Day Two, and although I had a little more success controlling my drives, my putting wasn’t as good; an Eagle on the 16th hole was my saving grace.
To be honest, I was a little afraid, going into the weekend, especially when my thumb started aching on the range on Day One. I knew I’d have to rely on my mental game to stay focused and not let my injury distract me. But I also knew it was good to be back, playing golf with my friends on a beautiful day which was hot like an LA summer and which made me think of the exciting summer of golf I have ahead of me.