“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” – Ben Hogan.
As we in the golf community deal with the implications of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, it is important to try and find some positives during what is an incredibly bleak time.
So, with that in mind, here are some notable injured or out of form players who should benefit from their time away from the golf course during the game’s extended blackout.
The former World No.1 has been dealing with a chronic back issue since 2014 and was forced to withdraw from his most recent start – the Arnold Palmer Invitational – in early March.
Not only has the Queenslander’s troublesome back prevented him from competing in or completing tournaments, it has also caused him to start altering key movements in his major-winning swing.
“Shifting laterally meant Jason was unable to rotate to his right hip, so his torso moved left and that can irritate the back,” said Day’s coach, Colin Swatton, last October.
“But now he is starting to rotate away from the ball better; that should improve not only power and accuracy, but protect his body long-term.
“Swinging better and preventing injuries, I think Jason will increase the number of opportunities he has to win on Sundays.”
Swatton was proven to be correct almost immediately when Day defeated Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama in the unofficial Japan Skins match.
But the 2015 US PGA Championship winner was then forced to withdraw from the Australian summer of golf, including the Presidents Cup, just weeks later – and he still hasn’t tasted victory on the PGA Tour since May, 2018.
“When I hear Jason Day talking about all the sacrifices he needed to make in the gym and practising, I never really heard about him paying proper attention to recovery,” said Golf Channel analysist Brandel Chamblee, following Day’s withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“If you have a short, quick golf swing then you are going to have a short, quick career.”
The American spent nearly three months on the sidelines at the backend of 2019 due to an ongoing knee injury, which was originally sustained last March.
Koepka underwent stem cell treatment in August last year – following the Tour Championship – to repair his left patella tendon, only to re-injure himself while slipping on concrete during the CJ Cup in October.
“In Korea, I re-tore it, and the kneecap had moved into the fat pad. That's excruciating. It's a lot of pain. It's not fun,” Koepka told reporters when returning to action in January.
Since his return, however, the former World No.1 has failed to make an impact in any of his five worldwide starts.
In fact, Koepka’s best finish came on the European Tour at the Saudi International, where he shared 17th place. On his home circuit, he hasn’t fared better than T43rd, which came at The Genesis Invitational.
The four-time major winner was obviously struggling to rediscover his best form and was perhaps still impaired by his niggling knee, so some extra recovery time certainly won’t hurt his cause.
The 15-time major champion withdrew from the Players Championship last month due to his chronic back issues and was last seen competing professionally at The Genesis Invitational in mid-February.
“It was not an easy decision, but I will not be attending @THEPLAYERSChamp. I have to listen to my body and properly rest when needed. My back is simply just not ready for play next week. I'm sad to miss one of the best events of the season, OUR Championship,” Woods tweeted on March 7.
Given his age – 44 – and considering the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is concerning to think that we may have seen the last of one of the game’s all-time greats.
How much longer will Woods be able to compete against the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas?
But the point of this piece was to highlight the positives of our game’s extended layoff period – and one of the major positives would be seeing Woods fit and healthy in time for his Masters defence during the proposed November timeslot.