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.