Klauk trying to end seizures, return to pro golf

By Jason SobelMay 11, 2012, 8:33 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – One hundred forty-four of the world’s best golfers are competing at this week’s Players Championship, all vying for the $1.71 million prize that awaits the winner. They will acknowledge each birdie with ecstasy, each par with relief, each bogey with anguish.

They will live and die with every stroke of the club, this assembled group of world-class professionals.

Jeff Klauk isn’t one of them. It’s not because his ball-striking has been inconsistent or his putting stroke a bit balky. It’s not because he isn’t good enough.

No, Klauk has the talent to play in this tournament.

It’s his brain that’s holding him back.

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Klauk grew up here at TPC-Sawgrass, headquarters for the PGA Tour. For 23 years, his father, Fred, was the golf course superintendent, the man largely responsible for ensuring the venue looked and played to the standards of such an elite championship.

The family lived just off the 12th hole of the Valley Course, the other 18-holer on this property. It was only a 15-minute walk for Jeff and his brothers to reach the first tee at the Stadium Course, a walk they routinely made during their youth.

During the summer months, Jeff and one brother, John, worked for their father, mowing fairways and greens all morning, then grabbing a quick lunch before either practicing or playing in the afternoon.

“Oh, it was great,” Fred says of those days. “It taught them so much. They were both aspiring professional golfers and it made them appreciate all the work that goes into hosting a tournament.”

It wasn’t just a golf course to the Klauks. It was a home. One on which Jeff estimates he’s played “close to 1,000 times” as a junior player, collegian and member of the PGA Tour.

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Yes, dreams do come true, and the kid who was raised in the epicenter of the most important golf circuit in the world was able to realize his.

After a lengthy career on the developmental Nationwide Tour, during which he earned more than $1 million, Jeff Klauk finally reached the PGA Tour for the first time in 2009. But that wasn’t good enough. Much like an Augusta, Ga., native pines to qualify for the Masters, he desperately wanted to make the field at The Players, competing in front of friends and family on his home course.

That’s no easy task for a rookie, but Klauk got off to a flying start that season. He finished T-12 at the Sony Open, T-11 at the Buick Invitational and solo fourth at the Honda Classic. By the time the calendar turned to May, he had made the cut in 11 of 13 starts – and gained entry into The Players.

“It was quite a thrill to be able to play in The Players Championship,” he recalls. “It was always a dream of mine.”

He didn’t just play. Klauk posted rounds of 71-72-70-71 to finish in a share of 14th place, ahead of such major champions as Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington.

It was an impressive display of golf considering all the pressures of competing in front of the hometown galleries. It was even more impressive considering what he was battling personally.

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On June 16, 2006, following a second-round 69 at the Nationwide Tour’s Knoxville Open, Klauk was asleep at a friend's house when he suffered a grand mal seizure. He withdrew from the event, but continued playing scheduled tournaments until he suffered a second occurrence two months later in Scranton, Pa.

“It was surprising because we’d had no problem up to then,” he says. “That was our wakeup call.”

After consulting with doctors and being diagnosed with epilepsy, Klauk was put on a drug called Trileptal, which completely eliminated the grand mal seizures. How could he tell it was working? After missing the cut at Pebble Beach in 2010, he flew home and forgot to take the medication. Without it, he suffered yet another episode.

Other than that occasion, he has remained free of grand mal seizures. In December of 2010, though, while driving to church with his wife Shanna and their two young children, Klauk became lightheaded and unresponsive.

“All of a sudden, I kind of spaced out,” he recalls. “I did a little chuckle laugh and Shanna asked me a question, but I was just spaced out.”

The Klauks met with a neurologist who performed testing on an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. It revealed that Jeff was suffering from complex partial seizures without ever being aware of them.

“I don’t have an aura that I’m having them,” he explains. “That would change things. If you know you’re having them, you’d stop what you’re doing and make it a safe situation.”

Instead, he’s had to make concessions. He doesn’t drive anymore and, coupled with rotator-cuff surgery and ankle surgery, he hasn’t competed in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event since last year’s Wichita Open.

Medication has helped reduce the seizures, but hasn’t eliminated them completely.

“They have controlled the seizures to an extent, but they’re not fully controlled,” Klauk says. “I’ll have one or two now and then, but it’s not to the extent that it makes us feel comfortable with me driving. They normally happen when I’m tired and I’ve had a long day, and a lot of the times they happen late at night, right after dinner or before I go to bed.”

The situation led to an agonizing conundrum: Live a life of compromises or seek the necessary steps to have them eliminated?

It wasn’t an easy decision.

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With his complex partial seizures limited by the medication, Jeff Klauk is going to live. He is going to be able to enjoy his family life and remain relatively pain-free, the previous rotator-cuff and ankle injuries notwithstanding.

He’ll be restricted, though. Won’t be able to drive a car. And, more importantly, could see the condition take a toll on his golf game.

For these reasons, he’s elected to employ medical technology to help eliminate the continual seizures. In November, he underwent another EMU at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to try to pinpoint where they were emanating. The process wasn’t successful, so Klauk took the next step.

Just three weeks ago, he checked into Emory for what is called intracranial monitoring. During a nine-hour procedure, Klauk had strips implanted inside both sides of his head, hooked up to 108 electrodes.

“The goal for that surgery is to locate the spot,” he explains. “If we happen to get really lucky and hit a home run, we can find the spot where the seizures are coming from. We didn’t hit a home run, but the whole process was to figure out what side of the head the seizures were coming from. We finally figured it out after 18 days.”

After 18 days of not being able to leave his room, let alone the hospital itself, Klauk was informed by neurologists that the seizures were coming from the left frontal part of his brain.

That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part.

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This past Wednesday, Klauk returned to his St. Augustine home – just 30 minutes from his childhood home next to TPC Sawgrass – both hopeful and anxious.

There aren’t many people who would be galvanized by a second elective brain surgery, but that’s exactly what he is hoping for. At some point in the next month, Klauk will find out whether he is a candidate to have another nine-hour procedure called a craniotomy, during which he would have a grid placed on the left side of his brain, potentially eradicating any further seizures.

Klauk calls it an invasive operation and a “very big process,” but understands its importance for his long-term well-being.

“That surgery gives me hope,” he says, “that I could possibly be seizure-free after all this.”

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All of which should lead to one simple yet complicated question: Why?

Why risk having multiple brain surgeries when the condition isn’t life-threatening? Why spend weeks and months in and out of hospitals? Why put yourself through all of this if it isn’t necessary?

Klauk understands the questions, but counters with easy answers.

“If I don’t try to become seizure-free, I’d have to live the rest of my life asking, ‘Why did I not give this a try?’” he contends. 'I’d always say, ‘Maybe if I had done it, I would be seizure free.’”

“Your main job as a wife is to support your husband,” Shanna says. “It’s the choice that he wanted to make. I’m not going to hold him back from something that’s going to change his life.”

Don’t underestimate the role that golf has played in his decision, either. Klauk desperately wants to return to the PGA Tour – he has eight tournaments remaining on a medical extension – and more than anything wants to return right back here, competing again at The Players Championship on the course he knows and loves so much.

“I think the golf is probably driving the bus,” says his father, Fred. “I think he’s taking a gamble, he’s risking a lot of things, because that’s where he wants to be. He wouldn’t be doing all of this if it wasn’t for golf.”

“I’d like to get it over with as soon as I can,” adds Jeff, “so I can get my normal life back on track and I can get out and play.”

When he does return to the PGA Tour, he will come bearing a greater perspective on things outside of the game.

Klauk is quick to point out that his ordeal is “nothing” compared to that of Jarrod Lyle, a fellow pro who is currently undergoing leukemia treatments in his native Australia. He also maintains that he wants to get involved with the Epilepsy Foundation, helping others dealing with similar afflictions.

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On Friday afternoon, two days after returning home from his 18-day stay at Emory, Klauk and his family were back at The Players Championship. Jeff and Shanna walked the familiar venue with Jackson, 7, and Bridget, 3, in hopes of giving the kids a chance to see Tiger Woods.

Wearing a white Titleist cap that barely hid large scars bordered by stitches on either side of his head, Klauk saw some old buddies. Tournament leader Zach Johnson, in particular, said that he’s continually keeping him in his prayers each day. It’s a common sentiment amongst his brethren.

“I’ve gotten so many letters and notes from guys on Tour that it wouldn’t even be fair to give names out, because I’d forget people,” he says. “They’re thinking about me; that means a lot to me. When I was in the hospital, I got a lot of those notes. That was a great surprise, just helped me stay strong when I was in there.”

The prayers and letters will continue while he enters the next phase of his battle, his recovery and his life. As he walked around the course, Klauk was home again. It’s a long road that he’s traveled to get back here. The journey, though, is far from over.

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee birdied the 18th hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round around the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18, a reachable par 5. Her second shot landed a few feet to the right of the green, and she calmly chipped to about 3 feet

She made the putt to finish at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. It was the Australian standout's fourth career victory and first since 2016.

Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst shot an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

The 52-year-old Englishman finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory. He won six times on the European Tour and has three European Senior Tour victories.

BYU men's golf team BYU

Sunday rule proves no advantage for BYU at NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 27, 2018, 10:06 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – For all the kvetching about the advantage BYU would gain by not playing on Sunday with the other teams at the NCAA Championship, one small thing was conveniently forgotten.

What happens if the Cougars were actually disadvantaged?

That’s what appears to have happened here at Karsten Creek.

Because the Mormon-run school prohibits athletics on Sunday, the NCAA accommodated BYU using its “Sunday Play” rule for the first time in the match-play era. (It was the team’s first NCAA berth since 2006.) That meant that BYU played its practice round last Wednesday, before the start of the final match of the NCAA Women’s Championship. The next day, the Cougars played their Sunday round – the third round of stroke-play qualifying – a half hour after the other 29 teams completed their practice round.

Some coaches grumbled about the issue of competitive fairness: What if BYU played in calm conditions for its third round on Thursday, while everybody else competed in rain and 30-mph winds come Sunday?

BYU coach Bruce Brockbank has been on the NCAA competition committee for the past four years, but even he was curious about how it would all play out.

For the practice round, the NCAA informed the Cougars that they needed to be off the course by 1:30 p.m. local time, a little more than a half hour before the start of the women’s final between Arizona and Alabama. All six players got a look at the course in 5 hours and 30 minutes – or an hour and 15 minutes less than the official Thursday practice round – and needed to run between shots on the 17th and 18th holes to finish on time.

Brockbank tried to prepare his players for what they would face Thursday. It’s a different experience without a playing marker – not seeing another shot affected by the wind, not watching another ball break on the greens, not falling into a rhythm with pace – but perhaps no amount of simulated rounds would have helped.

Playing as singles, with only a rules official and a walking scorer by its side, BYU began its NCAA Championship at 4 p.m. local time Thursday. The Cougars got in only a few holes before the horn sounded to suspend play. It turned out to be a two-hour weather delay, and players slapped it around a sloppy, soggy course until dark, with their last single on the 11th hole.

They returned the next morning, at 6:55, and wrapped up their round in an hour and a half before turning around for another 18.

Their final tally? They shot 24-over 312 – easily the worst third-round score of any team.

“We obviously didn’t handle it very well,” Brockbank said, “but it definitely wasn’t an advantage.”

BYU rebounded the next two rounds, with scores of 298-286, putting the team squarely inside the top-15 cut line.

“And six or seven hours,” he said, “we were right there with the best teams in the country.”

But then the third-round scores got posted, and it was clear that they had no chance of advancing past the 54-hole cut.

“It was pretty frustrating to watch our guys,” he said. “We just didn’t handle it very well.”

The same was true for the team’s best player, senior Patrick Fishburn. With just the first and second round counting, Fishburn (67-72) was in a tie for second, one shot off the individual lead, heading into Sunday. Then his third-round 78 from Thursday was posted, and he tumbled down the leaderboard, needing help just to advance to the final round of stroke-play qualifying.

“I’d rather have it this way,” Brockbank said. “If we had shot 5 under par and everyone else is over par, I don’t want to hear that wrath. The coaches wouldn’t put up with that. The fact that we’re not a factor, it’ll go away. But if the day did go well, it would have been a different story.”

Still, it was a strange dynamic Sunday, as a team competing in the NCAA Championship never even made it to the course – Brockbank preferred that the guys stay away from Karsten Creek, if only for appearances.

They went to a local church for three hours, then ate lunch and retired to the team hotel, where they watched TV and studied and played chess. Fishburn has another round to play Monday, but he didn’t even hit balls.

“I don’t think he’s even concerned about that – it’s just a nice, quiet Sabbath day,” Brockbank said. “But as a coach, it’s definitely a little odd.”