Van Der Walt Ready for Madeira


European TourTjaart Van der Walt is back on the European Tour this week at the Madeira Island Open after spending most of the last five years playing in the U.S. The native of South Africa has been hampered for the past two years with a wrist injury.
Tjaart Van der Walt
Tjaart Van der Walt nearly earned his first PGA TOUR victory last year in the Buick Championship.
Despite the injury, Van der Walt last year made $544,055 on the PGA TOUR. He was in a playoff for the Buick Championship but eventually lost to Brad Faxon. Hes played twice on the U.S. tour this year but missed the cut at Tucson and tied for 68th at Pebble Beach.
It actually happened at Q-school in '03, Van der Walt said of the wrist mishap. I think I started making some swing changes and was a bit aggressive and tore two ligaments in the left wrist - TFCC ligament and scapho lunate ' a very common injury, but the TFCC is around a nerve, too. And I had a couple of misdirected needles, and it hit the nerve and caused a neuritis.
He first tried to simply play through the ailment. He got through Q-school, went home to South Africa for a month, came back and played the Sony Open to start 2004.
But I never hit any balls, I just played, he said. You know, out here if you don't practice you're not going to get anywhere. So I went to a few guys on the West Coast, went back to the East Coast, saw a couple guys (in the Midwest). So I went to absolutely everybody, and they said, You've just got to rest.
A determined Van der Walt rested the wrist until the 04 British Open. He went through Open qualifying and succeeded. It was a big mistake.
On the 15th hole at Royal Troon, I hit it in the left rough, hit a shot out of the rough and I felt it tear again, so that was it. I called the PGA TOUR and told them that I will not be able to play for the rest of the year, and they were nice enough to work with me on a major medical exemption.
Playing last year on the exemption, he finished just 135th on the PGA TOUR and has only limited playing privileges this year.
Robert-Jan Derksen is the defending Madeira champion, winning last year on a 15-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Medeira Island Open