Jacobsen exceeding goal of health, contending at Allianz

Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Peter Jacobsen had Saturday's best round and enters the finale just three back.
February 11, 2012
Craig Dolch, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Most pros are asked to go over their birdies and bogeys after the round. It usually takes a minute or two.

With Peter Jacobsen, it makes more sense to go over his recent surgeries. But that might take several hours.

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Few pro golfers have had as many operations as Jacobsen and are still playing for a living. Seventeen, at last count, including knee replacement and hip replacement. He is the modern version of the Bionic Man, with more plates in him than a China factory.

"My goal this year it to go all year without another procedure," Jacobsen said. "I haven't been able to do that since I came on this tour."

But Jacobsen still has some game left in his creaky body, evidenced by Saturday's 7-under 65 -- the day's lowest round by two shots -- to vault into contention entering Sunday's final round of the Allianz Championship at Broken Sound. Jacobsen is three back of leader Corey Pavin, tied for fifth place. He started the day tied for 51st place.

"I didn't expect this," Jacobsen said afterward.

If he expected to play this well, Jacobsen would have been at Pebble Beach this weekend with singer Huey Lewis. We all know how much Jacobsen loved played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with actor Jack Lemmon, but Jake's body told him otherwise.

"I told Huey I just couldn't do it," Jacobson said. "I wasn't ready for primetime."

The 17 surgeries and months and months of rehab have limited Jacobsen to 89 starts on the Champions Tour in the eight seasons since he became eligible. At least 10 times he showed up at a tournament, played in the pro-am and had to withdraw because of pain. The constant trips to the operating room have prevented him from getting any momentum -- he has just one top-10 finish since 2008.

It's a shame, too, because Jacobsen won a major during each of his first two seasons (the 2004 U.S. Senior Open and the 2005 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship) and looked headed for a sensational second career on the Champions Tour. Those remain his only official titles since turning 50.

Now 57, Jacobsen considers it a major victory when he can play consecutive weeks. But he makes it clear he will keep playing as long as he can drag himself around a golf course.

"I still have this passion for the game," Jacobsen said. "There's nothing guaranteed in this game. The measure of a man is when he gets knocked down, to keep getting back up. I love the challenge of coming back from another injury."

Jacobsen has used the down time to launch yet another career -- as a commentator -- to go along with his accomplished work as a designer, singer, comedian and swing impersonator. He will do about 10 tournaments this year as an analyst for NBC Sports, almost as many events as he hopes to play.

Interview: Peter Jacobsen

Brian Katrek and John Maginnes speak with Peter Jacobson after his second round at the Allianz Championship.

"I enjoy announcing because you are on the front lines," he said. "I love Johnny Miller, but unlike Johnny, I know this game is hard. I have a softer approach than Johnny."

But you have to be tough to overcome as many ailments as Jacobsen has endured. In addition to the hip and knee replacements, he has had a torn rotator cuff and constant problems in his lower back that sometimes turns his legs into Jell-O. He has learned to follow his therapist's advice as steadfastly as a caddie reading a putt.

"I do what I'm told," he said. "I haven't had a spine since I got married 35 years ago."

Now that Jacobsen has surpassed his expectations for this week, now what? Does he expect to win?

"That's a tough question to answer," he said. "Let me put it this way: If I have a chance to win with three or four holes left, I expect to win. But whatever happens, I'm going to enjoy myself."

Sure beats going to the operating room again.