PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jason Bohn felt a little shudder stepping up to his golf bag on the driving range after arriving at PGA National Tuesday morning for the Honda Classic.
The last time he was on the Champions Course, he left with chest pain, with paramedics treating him for a heart attack.
He left in an ambulance after finishing the second round, with whirring sirens rushing him to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, where doctors found 99 percent blockage of his heart’s left anterior descending artery, a condition that’s called the “widow maker” because it can lead to sudden death.
That’s how the Honda Classic ended for him last year.
“So I’ve got to tell you, it was a little bit eerie getting to the driving range today,” Bohn told GolfChannel.com.
Bohn, though, went on to detail how much a return to the Honda Classic means to him.
When this season’s PGA Tour schedule came out, he circled the Honda Classic.
“I couldn’t wait to get back here,” said Bohn, 43. “I couldn’t wait to play.”
That’s because Bohn says his heart attack changed him, and he’s grateful for the change.
“Having a heart attack was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” Bohn said.
Surgeons inserted a stent in Bohn’s heart, to open the blocked artery. He has been healing nicely ever since. He says the heart attack has actually improved the quality of his life.
“I’ve really learned a lot about myself, about diet and about my body and how it processes food, and I’ve also come to appreciate things that maybe I didn’t appreciate a couple years ago,” Bohn said. “We play this game, and it can be extremely stressful at times. We ride this massive roller coaster, going up and down. I really believe a lot of what happened to me was based on stress.”
Bohn said his perspective changed after the heart attack. And everything he was learning was reinforced when his mother, Carol, had her own scare. She had triple bypass surgery three weeks after Jason’s heart attack.
“When I first got out on tour, I was so appreciative to be here,” Bohn said. “I was so excited. I stopped and smelled the roses along the way. I waved to people. But once you’re out here, you get lost as to where you are and how grateful you need to be.
“That’s why I say it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I pay more attention to details with my kids, my wife, to things I was kind of taking for granted. Maybe it was just God looking down at me and slapping me in the face and saying `Wake up buddy, you have a real special deal and you really need to enjoy it.’”
Bohn’s wife, Tewana, and the couple’s two boys, Conner, 11, and Cameron, 8, are back home in suburban Atlanta because of school, but the family understands how the Honda Classic changed their lives.
Bohn’s trying not to make his return too heavy.
“We’ve had a joke going,” Bohn said. “I’ve been telling my wife that my goal this week is to stay out of the hospital.”
But Bohn plans to return to the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center on Wednesday, this time just to visit.
“I want to go back to thank the doctors and nurses again for turning my life around,” Bohn said.
Bohn has made six cuts in nine starts this season, with his best finish a T-35 at Mayakoba. Yes, golf is still important to him, but he says he has learned to better manage the rollercoaster life.
“Out here, your score can feel like it’s everything, and it’s really not,” Bohn said. “It’s a cliché, that it’s about playing one shot at a time, one hole at a time, that it’s about staying in the moment, but the reality is now I realize what that really means, what the moment is, when you are right there. I’m trying not to take anything for granted.”