Snyder returns to Tour after six years of medical mysteries

By Jason SobelMay 16, 2012, 4:05 pm

IRVING, Texas – Joey Snyder III woke up early Monday morning in his family’s Scottsdale, Ariz., home and explained to his two young daughters that he needed to go to work.

Sophie, 5, and Caroline, 3, were confused at first, then upset that their dad was leaving. They didn’t understand. They couldn’t understand.

One of the most commonly asked questions in our society is, “So, what do you do for a living?” yet for so many of us the answer is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum.

All across Hollywood, there are actresses who spend their days reciting lunch specials for 10 bucks an hour. Check into your local Jiffy Lube and a race car driver may change your oil filter. Even serious artists are biding their time as sandwich artists.

For the past six years, Snyder has been a PGA Tour golfer who doesn’t play golf.

It wasn’t always this way. After nine years of trying to reach his dream, the Arizona State University alum finished T-13 at Q-School in 2004, earning full-time status for the 2005 season. His rookie campaign was an unabashed success, as Snyder made the cut in 20 of 31 starts, earning more than $1 million and – most importantly – keeping his card for the next season.

His sophomore year, though, didn’t go nearly as smoothly. Snyder missed his first five cuts of the season, and  then on March 5, while hitting balls on the practice range at Doral, he started feeling intense pain in the right side of his neck and right shoulder.

“Rocco Mediate was next to me and he just started picking up all my practice balls and putting them in his pocket,” Snyder recalls. “He’s like, ‘Dude, go home.’”

What followed next was a confluence of medical head-scratchers and misdiagnoses that were as confounding as the injury itself.

It took six weeks for Snyder to get in to see a top neurosurgeon, who assured him that the problem wasn’t with his neck – but did assure him that he couldn’t pinpoint the issue.

That became a recurring theme. A shoulder specialist would send him to a neck specialist, and then the neck specialist would send him to a spine specialist, only to have the spine specialist send him back to a shoulder specialist. It was a never-ending cycle of appointments and tests, all to no avail.

Within two years of first being injured, Snyder guesses he underwent about 10 MRIs. Still, no answers.

Like a 36-handicap hacking away at the range, Snyder was ready to try anything.

“I went to see – you name it,” he says. “All kinds of different crazy gurus of body mechanics. I went to a guy up in Minneapolis, Minn., who Arron Oberholser had seen. Literally, it was shock therapy. Tried to do it and it just didn’t fix it.”

Four months of that. Three months with another doctor. There were even procedures done to potentially alleviate the pain. In late-2009, Snyder underwent surgery for a sports hernia, and then was told immediately afterward that he needed to have surgery on his right hip, as well. Neither solved the problem. He still couldn’t swing the golf club.

All during this time, he heard the whispers from fellow PGA Tour members. When a player with full status is injured, he not only receives a medical extension which allows him to resume playing privileges once healthy, but also a monthly stipend during that absence.

The cases are few and far between, but Snyder wouldn’t have been the first player to extensively milk an injury in order to keep receiving paychecks without actually having to play any golf.

“Most of the players were very supportive,” he says. “But some guys do question whether you’re staying at home, living off disability because you can. I’ve heard everything. For a guy like me, I’m pretty honest. It’s hard not to have Mickey Mouse ears when it comes to that stuff. It definitely hurts your feelings, but there’s part of you that understands it.

“I mean, gosh, they haven’t seen me in six years. I kept telling them, ‘I would love to come back. Believe me, I didn’t try this long to get out here just so I could sit at home.’”

Finally, on March 5, 2010, exactly four years to the day of his last PGA Tour round, he was diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis – more commonly known as frozen shoulder. The affliction baffled doctors for so long because the nerve in his shoulder was fully engulfed in scar tissue due to so much golf.

“I told the doctor, ‘You’re going to have to forgive me, but I’ve heard that people can fix me and nobody’s done it, so I want to see that this is the right diagnosis,’” he recalls. “The doctor said, ‘On behalf of the medical community, I want to apologize to you. This should have been something that was fairly easy to diagnose, but we missed it, because of all the neurological signs and all the referred pain.’”

Snyder underwent surgery to fix the problem, albeit not without further complications. He played in five Nationwide Tour events last season – missing the cut in each one, but posting scores between 70-73 in all 10 rounds – and felt more pain, so he had another procedure. He had wanted to return earlier this year, but again had the injury flare up.

Now, though, it’s gone – at least for the time being. All of the doctor visits, all of those diagnoses and tests and procedures, they were done for the main goal of returning to his job.

On Thursday, Snyder will compete on the PGA Tour for the first time in 2,265 days, part of the Byron Nelson Championship field. He has 25 starts in which to earn $647,466, which would give him the equivalent of 125th on the money from the 2006 season.

Of course, the Tour has changed since then. Sure, there are many familiar faces, but gazing out upon the practice range this week, Snyder says he only recognizes most of the younger players from watching them on TV.

As for his game, Snyder maintains there are no expectations for his return engagement.

“Everything is feeling pretty good,” he says, “but don’t get me wrong – the game has still got a little bit of rust.”

Meanwhile, Sophie and Caroline – along with Snyder’s wife Dana – will be watching from home, still not exactly sure why their father is gone or what his job really entails.

“I’ve been at home every single day of their lives. It’s been great. It’s been the only thing that’s kept me sane,” he explains. “They said, ‘Daddy, why do you have to go?’ I told them, ‘This is what Daddy does for a living. I know you haven’t seen it, but hopefully you’ll get to see what Daddy does.’”

For the past six years, Snyder has been a PGA Tour golfer. This week, he finally gets a chance to play that role.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.