Martin aims for return from 'awful' injury stretch

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Mo Martin celebrated her 32nd birthday Wednesday over a quiet dinner with friends in Los Angeles.

“Nothing crazy,” Martin told GolfChannel.com in a telephone interview.

The last few months have been crazy enough for Martin, this year’s Cinderella story in golf.

After winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open in July, making her first LPGA victory a major championship, Martin has been mostly sidelined with a thumb injury. After spending six years on the Symetra Tour toiling for a chance to play the LPGA, Martin knows patience, but even she’s frustrated with her year’s turn since winning at Royal Birkdale.

“I don’t like to use the word awful, but it’s been awful,” Martin said of being unable to compete.

Martin hurt her thumb tying for seventh at the Marathon Classic the week after winning the Women’s British Open and aggravated the injury at the Wegmans LPGA Championship in the middle of August. She hasn’t played an LPGA event since, but she’s aiming to make her return next week at the KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea.

“It’s been incredibly hard sitting out, especially since I had so much momentum going,” Martin said. “That’s the difficult part.”

Martin plans to fly out of Los Angeles on Friday for South Korea. Since injuring herself, she has consulted with three doctors and received three diagnoses. The first diagnosis was a ligament sprain. The second diagnosis was that it’s a double-jointed sprain. A hand specialist she saw in Los Angeles finally diagnosed it as cartilage damage, a dorsal impingement of the lower joint of her thumb. She has been receiving physical therapy for the latter diagnosis.

“We are making very, very slow progress,” Martin said. “I’m not 100 percent, but I really want to get back out there. I really miss playing.”

Martin will play in a splint over her thumb.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s helping me with the nerve pain,” she said. “I’ll probably have to play in the splint for the rest of the year.”

Martin is also in the process of changing her grip, to avoid hurting the thumb in the future. She plans to see her swing coach, Ian Triggs, in South Korea, where they’ll work on the grip change, though playing in the splint inhibits a full change.

“I don’t want to change my grip, but I don’t want this to happen again,” Martin said. “I have to get some pressure off the joint.”

Martin will continue with her physical therapy, and she’s hoping a return to the tour will be therapeutic for her mind and soul.