PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – There are always a ton of good stories about qualifiers for the U.S. Open but one stood out this week. Hudson Swafford is a big kid, think Tim Tebow with a cool southern drawl, with a hard swing and soft hands.
Even more impressive, however, is the fact that Swafford’s opening round on Thursday at Pebble Beach will be his fourth competitive outing since shoulder surgery last August.
Swafford, a baseball player growing up, injured his shoulder his freshman year at the University of Georgia and decided to have the surgery and redshirt for his senior year when the pain become unbearable. Like most athletes with major injuries, Swafford struggled with the psychological impacts of the injury. That was until he aced three rounds of qualifying for this week’s Open.
“I thought about it all the time,” he said. “But I feel it’s actually helped me. My swing is better than it ever has been. I felt like I played with a hole in my shoulder for years.”
The ultimate confidence boost came this week when he played practice rounds with defending champion Lucas Glover and Davis Love III. For a guy three rounds into a comeback he sounded more like a contender when asked about his expectations.
“I’m excited because I really thought I was ready,” he said.