From Hospital to US Open in 18 Months

By Associated PressJune 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Brian Kortan felt the pain in his chest, then his jaw, then the heaviness in his arms. He put on his T-shirt and shorts, walked upstairs to his buddys room and said, Cmon, weve got to get to the emergency room.
 
He was having a heart attack, and when a man is 35 years old and having a heart attack'a so-called widow maker thats caused by blockage of the left anterior descending artery'its not uncommon for that trip to the emergency room to be the last trip he takes.
 
Kortan survived that scare in August 2006, and the fact that hes still around to talk about it means that, in many ways, hes already playing in the bonus round of life.
 
That he is also playing in the U.S. Open'well, thats just another one of those dreams that Kortan can check off his list.
 
Its going to be a great, gratifying experience, he said.
 
He will be there at 9:01 a.m. Thursday on the first tee box at Torrey Pines, 14 clubs in the bag, a handful of well-wishers on the other side of the ropes and a defibrillator near his heart. The defibrillator, about the size of a cell phone, was surgically implanted about a year ago.
 
Odds are, he wont win a championship this week. But then again, does he really have to be holding a trophy on Sunday to be called a champion?
 
He got his second chance, and slowly but surely hes been making it, said Kortans wife, Elaine. Id say playing in the U.S. Open is going to be a highlight for him.
 
Only the hardcore golf fans will remember Kortan.
 
He spent 2004 on the PGA TOUR. Made eight cuts. Earned almost $160,000. But that wasnt enough, and so he went back down to the Nationwide Tour in 2005. Lost his card there, too, though that turned out to be the least of his problems.
 
He knew of heart problems on his mothers side of the family but never did much about it. He is listed at 5-foot-3, 150 pounds and said those numbers were about the same before the heart attack. His cholesterol was low. He never had trouble walking the hundreds of miles of fairways he traversed each year as a pro golfer. He felt the occasional pains in his chest and a tightening of the jaw'the classic symptoms of heart problems, he said'but never thought much of that, either.
 
I was just completely naive, he said.
 
Staying at his friends house while playing on the South Dakota Tour, he made it to the hospital quickly enough on the night of the heart attack for doctors to save his life.
 
He emerged having lost about 40 to 50 percent of his heart function.
 
Ive had some changes in my life, I guess, he said.
 
He works out more. Eats better. He and Elaine keep better track of what their kids, 3-year-old Beau and 7-year-old Cade, are eating, too. Kortans mother got a check-up after Brians scare, and she had six stents put in her heart. Brian has three.
 
Golf, however, has not been put on the back burner.
 
Once you get past the top of this list'family and friends and things' golf is what makes me who I am. It makes me the person I am, Kortan said. It will be there. It will be there when Im done. When I hang the clubs up and decide to do something different someday, its still going to be a part of me.
 
After leaving the hospital and recuperating for a bit, doctors gave Kortan the go-ahead to get back into competition mode. But after a scare with some readings in his heart function, they insisted he take a break and go home to Albuquerque, N.M., to have a defibrillator implanted in his chest.
 
Its a small device that monitors the activity in his heart. If things arent operating normally, the device can shock his heart back into normalcy.
 
Fortunately, mine hasnt had to kick in yet, Kortan said. But its even to the point where, if it does, if I went into some sort of cardiac arrhythmia, it would actually shock me. And when it does shock you, it puts you to the floor.
 
But Kortan doesnt wait around wondering if thats going to happen.
 
He lives, plays golf, goes about his business the way a perfectly healthy person would. Walking Torrey Pines wont be nearly as hard for him, he says, as some of the tracks hes walked on the PGA TOUR'Castle Pines at 7,000 feet, or Memphis at 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity.
 
Yes, there will be stress this week, but doctors told him that shouldnt stop him from competing, either. After all, what job doesnt have stress?
 
He takes precautions, but he doesnt worry about anything, Elaine said. The defibrillator is the backup and he knows its there.
 
His golf game, as should be clear, is rounding back into form. He made it through two rounds of U.S. Open qualifying and was the medalist at the sectional round in Littleton, Colo.
 
He has finished in the top 5 three times on the Adams Pro Golf TOUR this year, and there are possible paths back to the big time for him, maybe via the Nationwide Tour'or maybe based on something that happens this week.
 
But even if this week ends early, it would be hard to call it anything but a success.
 
Im glad Im able to have this experience, Kortan said, because there were definitely some times over the last year and a half that I didnt know if Id ever get to experience something like this ever again.
 
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    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

    Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

    Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

    The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

    Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

    That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

    In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

    Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

    Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

    In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

    Johnson becomes world No. 1, starts season with three straight wins

    Article: Johnson officially ascends to No. 1 for first time with Riviera win

    DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

    View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

    Article: DJ's star once again shines brightest at WGC-Mexico

    DJ on win: 'Means a lot' with the pressure of No. 1

    DJ breaks it down: How No. 1 won WGC-Mexico

    Video: DJ withstands Rahm's rally to win WGC-Match Play final

    DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

    Johnson: 'I definitely didn't play my best today'


    Johnson enters Masters as odds-on favorite, withdraws after falling down stairs

    Article: After uneasy warmup, DJ withdraws from Masters

    Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

    Article: DJ injures back in fall, hopes to play Masters

    DJ on Masters WD: 'Want to play ... it sucks'

    DJ: 'I was playing the best golf of my career'


    DJ welcomes second child with fiancée Paulina Gretzky

    DJ, Paulina welcome baby boy before U.S. Open

    It's a(nother) boy! DJ-Paulina's gender reveal


    This and that: DJ and Paulina in 2017

    DJ, Paulina make new music video on ski vacation

    DJ, Paulina unwind with Bahamas vacay

    DJ: 'Absolutely' no input on Paulina's social media

    Watch: Paulina shows off pretty swing at TopGolf


    Johnson adds fourth win of season, blows chance at fifth

    As good as it gets: DJ-Outduels Spieth at Northern Trust

    Johnson's HSBC collapse surprising, but not major

    DJ beats Spieth in playoff to earn fourth win of year

    Burr: 'For a great win there is an epic collapse'