Pros go away only when the pain won't

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2012 - 12:52 PM

Nick Price and Mark O'Meara are coming back from vexing injuries to play in the 3M Championship.

hide

Two torn tendons near his left elbow kept Nick Price off the golf course for 15 weeks.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Subconsciously, Nick Price gently tapped on his left elbow as he discussed the past 15 weeks. The spot near his two healing tendons is still tender to the touch, but nothing like the pain that has kept him out of competition.

"The longest layoff I've had ever," Price said. "Treading water waiting for something to happen. For a long time I thought it was a career-ender."

Mark O'Meara was sitting in the same chair a little while later, discussing a similar amount of idle time. He stuck his fingers out in the shape of Pac-Man, compressing them up and down to simulate what his right lower rib endured with the cartilage torn off.

"It felt like somebody was sticking a knife in there," he said.

Detail by detail, Price and O'Meara discussed the pain -- physically and mentally.

The only treatment prescribed for each of them? Rest and rehabilitation. Or exactly what professional golfers despise.

"I drove my family crazy," Price said.

It comes to an end Friday at the 3M Championship. The 55-year-old major champions are scheduled to tee off for the first time in a long time a half-hour apart at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.

"I've played for 32 years as a professional golfer and [been through] nothing like this," O'Meara said. "I've missed the Masters. Missed the [British] Open Championship. Missed all the Champions Tour majors. Unfortunately, 2012 hasn't been a very good year for me as a golfer."

Both went to specialists. They had MRIs, bone scans and acupuncture.

Two decades ago the layoff might have been a month or two for O'Meara and Price. But as competitors on a tour for golfers 50 and older, no activity is the best medicine, not aggressive treatment.

"I just hope I'm not jumping the gun," said Price, who played his first round of golf since his diagnosis just last Friday. "I'm a pretty hard practicer, but I'm down to 40-50 balls a day. I'm going to have to draw on all my experiences [this weekend]. I'm sure I'm going to hit some funny shots."

O'Meara, winner of both the Masters and British Open in 1998, tried to make a comeback in late June at the Champions Tour event in Montreal. If he could prove himself there, he thought, maybe competing in the British Open a month later wouldn't be out of the question.

Nope.

"At times I'd just be walking and I'd feel it: Somebody stuck me," he said.

O'Meara made a pledge to sit all of July. He and Price traded text messages about getting back on the course this week.

"I would have come back three weeks ago if I could have," said Price, winner of the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championships and the 1994 British Open. "I don't want to embarrass myself. But I want to get out there and play."

Neither player has high expectations for this week, or the rest of the year. Even if they play the balance of the Champions Tour schedule without incident, they are on pace to finish with the lowest number of events entered in their professional careers in a single season.

It doesn't bother them. A little golf is still good golf.

"At our age it's a blessing to still be able to play professional golf," O'Meara said. "We have strong players, Hall of Fame players. But there's a love-hate relationship. When you do it so much, you get a little worn out, but this is what I am programmed to do."

  • 3M CHAMPIONSHIP

    Today-Sunday • TPC Twin Cities

    TV: The Golf Channel (11 a.m. -12:30 p.m.)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta - WP: D. Hale 3 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: M. Parra 1
Seattle - WP: D. Leone 5 FINAL
Boston - LP: K. Uehara 3
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6 FINAL
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 3
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 3
Detroit - LP: R. Ray 6 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 20
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: F. Morales 5
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 1 FINAL
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 5
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 5
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 6
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 72 FINAL
Phoenix 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close