Sanchez returns to golf after breaking back
July 11, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- David Sanchez earned six guaranteed starts after finishing T-4 at the Mackenzie Tour Q-School site in Arizona. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
CALEDON, Ont. – It’s another week working at a golf course for David Sanchez, but this time, he’s playing.
The 41-year-old earned six guaranteed starts this year on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada by finishing T-4 at the Mackenzie Tour Q-School site in Arizona. But he hasn’t played a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since getting into the field of the Wyndham Championship in 2012. Prior to that, he played the Korn Ferry Tour in 2007.
So what’s prompted him to make a return? Sanchez hasn’t teed it up at any of the five previous events on the Mackenzie Tour schedule so far in 2019, because he’s been working as an instructor in the Carolinas.
His guaranteed starts’ total runs out this week at the Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos and CBM Aggregates, but he re-worked his schedule to make the trip to Toronto.
He also quit golf for nearly five years after breaking his back in 2014. He returned late last year to give it one more go.
Thursday at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley he shook off the rust, and felt pretty good about things to boot. He made four straight birdies on his second nine en route to a 3-under-par 69.
“I’m rusty. Super rusty. It took me about 13 holes to remember how to think,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t have that one putt or shot to get things going. I needed one, and I finally hit that one good one and it was golf again.”
He said he didn’t feel any extra nerves Thursday – not only has Sanchez not played a TOUR-sanctioned event in nearly seven years, but he has only played three rounds of golf, total, the last six weeks – just normal ‘playing-in-a-tournament’ sensations.
He said he was feeling good and healthy on Thursday, though.
“The back is happier on the range than it is on the golf course. If I keep making swings and hitting balls, it’s fine. If I stop it’ll tighten up but I’m old, so what do you expect?” he said, laughing.
Sanchez didn’t show his age Thursday, however.
Although he was 1-over through three holes he shot even par on his first nine, and 3-under coming home. He also had a comfortable group. One of his playing partners on the day was Hayden Buckley, who he played with for two rounds at Q-School.
That week at Q-School, Sanchez said, was the catalyst for a year that’s been filled with pleasant surprises.
“This year has been way more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be,” said Sanchez, who admitted he only “kind of, sort of” played golf last year.
He played six tournaments, just mini-tour events in the Carolinas and Florida, then went to First Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Q-School but missed out moving on. There was “nothing positive” about his competitive run a year ago.
But thanks to some work in the gym – he began working with a personal trainer again – and some time with a neuropsychologist to get his mental game in better form, too, he managed to turn things around.
“I stopped (playing) partially because of the injuries but I almost dreaded playing tournaments again. It wasn’t fun. I’d go and play and I’d be like, ‘this isn’t me playing golf. This isn’t how I normally play golf.’ The stuff we did in the off-season it really registered. Even if my results have been feast or famine, the first few were good and the last few kind of sucked, but I’m enjoying it so much more,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez had a simple goal this week – just to play well.
“What is important is finishing the tournament and being like, ‘I played solidly,’” he said. “If I feel like I’ve played pretty well and was at least halfway efficient with scoring, that’s all I care about really.”
But considering everything else he’s been through the last decade or so, and for a guy who has played fewer rounds of golf the last six weeks than most of the guys on the Mackenzie Tour play in a weekend, it was an impressive Thursday.
He may not fully care about the results, but so far, so good.