When I was researching for my Sunday post about Steve Stricker, “You Gotta Love This Guy,” my interest was in Stricker. I just love the guy’s story: Wisconsin guy, married his coach’s daughter, Nickie, set out on Tour, the two of them, and turned him into one of the best players out there.
But then like Icarus, he flew too close to the sun, took his career for granted and fell from grace.
But he took stock of his life, decided to get it back together with hard work and commitment—to include hitting balls out of a three-sided trailer in the Wisconsin winters—and now he’s one of the biggest stars, not just on the Tour, but in the world.
So I love the guy. But he only had a three shot lead. Granted he was playing great up until then and it looked like he would prevail, but it was only right to give the guys close at hand their due: Jonathan Byrd, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Jobe.
I knew Jobe’s name, but I hadn’t seen him lately. If you know somebody well enough that you recognize their name and maybe even remember what they look like, then it’s almost always the case that the reason they’re not playing is due to injury.
So I started researching Jobe to finish my post and this is what I wrote about him:
…In 2005, this guy made $2.1 million. But at the end of 2006, a freak accident at home cost him his 2007 and 2008 seasons. He severed the tip of his left index finger and the base of his left thumb after a broom handle broke while sweeping his garage. In 2009, playing on a major medical exemption, he failed to make enough to keep his card and could only manage a T64 at Q-School. That put him back on the Nationwide Tour for 2010 where he only made 12 of 23 cuts, but it did tune him up for another crack at Q-School where he finished T6 and won his card back for this year. And, so far, he appears to be on track to easily keep his card for next year. Good story.
And a pretty good synopsis. But during the course of Sunday’s broadcast, Peter Kostis, the CBS analyst and golf coach, got into just what Jobe had to do to be able to play again.
First of all, I didn’t understand that he severed both his finger and thumb and literally had to pick them up with a baggie so that they could be sewed back on. And he had to do it so that his daughter couldn’t see what he was doing. Can you imagine the self-control? In the name of love and care for her, he stifled his pain so she wouldn’t be afraid and then drove himself to the hospital.
Fortunately, there was a micro-surgeon on staff and he was able to get them sewn back on. But the downside is that he has no feeling anymore in either the finger or the thumb. And as Kostis pointed out, losing the feeling in your lead hand is not a good thing. The left hand is the hand that not only pulls the club back down from the top, but it’s the one that lets you know where the clubhead is at the top. It’s the one that rotates down and squares the clubface through impact. Not good.
The reason I am so smitten by this already inspirational story is the masterful way that Jobe went about dealing with this situation.
He had always played a power fade ball flight. But because he could no longer feel what was going on up at the top, he never knew where the ball was going. And so he adapted. Instead of relying on a fade through feel, he began to hit the ball right to left and relying on a draw by timing his release.
And just like anything you try to change in a golf swing, you have to get the specifics of it through slow motion moves to show the body what you’re trying to do. And then you slowly build up the speed of the motion until you can replicate it at full speed. And then you capture it with reps. When it falls out of synch, you slow it down and build it back up again with reps.
So I didn’t know all of this detail until they were well into the broadcast. Because I was so inspired by the fact that he came back from a gruesome injury, I was paying particular attention to his swing and how far and consistently he was driving the ball. I just had no idea that he was doing it with no feeling in his hand. The whole thing, it turned out, was smoke and mirrors. And mastery.
In any event, there wasn’t any room to complete this story in yesterday’s post on Striker’s win, but what Jobe accomplished was such a stunning display of mastery, I thought it was worthy of its own dedicated post today. Particularly because he finished T2 and earned $546,000. And he had 8 birdies in shooting his final round 65. Whew!
Oh, and then, on five hours sleep, he played yesterday in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier and was the co-medalist. Shooting 10-under 62 in the morning round and 70 in the afternoon. Tour pro. Masterful.
For more details and quotes from Jobe, you can see this story by Jimmy Burch writing for McClatchy Newspapers and written just before Jobe’s appearance in his hometown tournament at Colonial in Fort Worth three weeks ago. Or this one written yesterday by Craig Dolch for pgatour.com.