Brandt Snedeker excited to return after puzzling injury

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – No more French fries.

Of all the changes Brandt Snedeker must obey to combat a rare sternum joint injury he suffered in June, the sliced potatoes he so dearly fancies don’t rank at the top of the import meter but nonetheless provide a dramatic adjustment.

“I’ve always loved French fries,” Snedeker said. “It’s not fun.”

Dealing with an injury never is. Snedeker returns to the PGA Tour this week at the RSM Classic after missing nearly five months to deal with an injury far more common in athletes playing contact sports. While he’s dealt with injuries before, this one had no return date to strive for. This one even had Snedeker wondering if he’d ever play competitive golf again.

He said he visited 15 doctors and not one had seen the injury in a golfer. Snedeker’s options were to either rest and let it heal or have a metal plate surgically inserted that would be attached to the upper and lower sternum.

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The eight-time Tour winner and 2012 FedExCup champion opted for rest. He didn’t touch a club for nine weeks. He now has a new workout program, a new swing and a new diet that tempers inflammation that could go straight to the sternum and cause more pain. Sugar and carbs are out, raw vegetables are in.

“A miserable, kind of boring diet to say the least,” he said Tuesday ahead of a practice round on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. “As a guy who likes to eat food and likes to have fun, this has not been a great change.”

The injury flared up at the Travelers Championship in June. At the British Open a month later, Snedeker, 36, was forced to withdraw after hitting a few shots on the practice ground where he was in pain just from breathing.

Upon his return to the States, uncertainty became his constant companion. The doctors didn’t know how to fix the injury, for they’d never seen this kind of injury without a blunt force trauma causing it.

“Not knowing,” Snedeker said, was the toughest part. “ … I’ve had injuries before and there’s always been a start‑stop date. This is the first time where I had an injury where literally doctors are going, ‘I don’t know, I can’t tell you a date when you can get back to playing, we have to wait and see.’ That was probably the worst thing you can tell a golfer is just wait and see.”

Now his doctor is comfortable with Snedeker playing. After this week he will be re-evaluated. For now, his plan is to play with Bubba Watson in the QBE Shootout in December. That is, if all goes well this week.

“Semi‑retirement’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” Snedeker said. “It’s been a long time. It’s fun to be back, kind of realize what you miss, and I’m probably the most excited guy in the field this week to be playing again. I can’t remember the last time I was here on a Monday practicing for a tournament. I’m excited about where my game is from what I’ve seen at home. So hopefully I can kind of step right in, not miss a step and play some good golf.

“The only thing I’m worried about is doing something weird, like having a weird impact or a lot of force hit my chest and see if it can handle it. That’s kind of the point why the doctors wanted me to play this week, is we need to find out if what we’ve done has worked or if we need to do something different. Even though I feel great practicing, you’re not going to know until you go play five straight days and if your body can take it or not. If it can’t take, we’re going to figure out something else to do.”

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