AFTER SHARING sixth place in the Memorial Tournament in early June, Jonathan Byrd owned five top-10 finishes in 13 PGA Tour starts and ranked 28th in earnings. Then, his 2012 season went downhill — for a reason.
Although he refuses to blame his wrist injury for the skid, the ligament and tendon damage required surgery in late October, and his golf clubs are in the closet for a while. Rehabilitation time is at least four months, and he will not play again “until I’m 100 percent, no matter how long it takes.”
Byrd, who grew up in Columbia and earned All-America honors at Clemson, felt pain during the summer that affected his practices, but he said, “It’s hard to say (the wrist) impacted how I played. I iced it more and thought maybe I had some inflammation or tendinitis.”
He played until being eliminated in the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs in September, then began undergoing tests to find the cause of his pain. Six weeks later, “I found out I needed surgery,” he said.
He remember a fall in January that might have weakened his wrist, but he attributes the injury “mainly to wear and tear” from playing golf.
The prognosis is good, and he has talked to other golfers, such as Luke Donald, Jim Furyk and Trevor Immelman who have experienced similar injuries.
“Although his was a little different, Jim Furyk told me it took six months before it felt right,” Byrd said.
Byrd opened 2012 with a tie for third in the Tournament of Champions and racked up top-10s at the Northern Trust, Wells Fargo, Colonial and Memorial. Afterward in his final eight events, he missed three cuts and finished better than 50th once. Even with the forgettable finish, he earned more than $1.6 million to place 50th in PGA Tour earnings and is 76th in the world rankings.
“I’m just happy to get it fixed and I have just started the first stage of rehab,” he said. “I won’t be able to swing a club for a while and the best case would be for me to get back in time for the Florida swing (in March) next year.
“But I’m going to be patient and there’s no reason to rush. If it takes six months to heal properly, I’ll do that.”
South Carolina and Clemson delved heavily into the state ranks during the early signing period.
The Gamecocks added Bluffton native Ben Dietrich, 31st in the AJGA/Polo Junior rankings, and Kieron Fowler of Alicante, Spain, one of Europe’s top juniors, to the men’s team. The USC women added Katelyn Dambaugh of Goose Creek, No. 8 in the class of 2013.
Clemson signed high school teammates Carson Young and Austin Langdale of Pendleton and both rank among the top 20 in Golfweek’s analysis of the 2013 recruiting class. Clemson’s women’s program, which begins play in the fall of 2013, signed four players in Golfweek’s top 50, including McKenzie Talbert and Jessica Hoang from North Augusta.
USC freshman Matt NeSmith earned the AJGA’s player of the year award. ... Tickets for the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship, set for April 29-May 5 at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club, are on sale. Go to wellsfargochampionship.com or call (800) 945-0777 for details.