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Nicholas Lindheim is amped for TOUR return after back injury

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Nicholas Lindheim is amped for TOUR return after back injury

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Last fall, veteran pro Nicholas Lindheim authored a triumphant return to the PGA TOUR via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

    Then after just three starts, his back went out before the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He’d suffered from bulging and herniated disks for years, but it was to the point where he was struggling to walk. He underwent an MRI which indicated things were pretty bad.

    Fortunately, Lindheim didn’t need surgery, and rehab led to a return this summer on the Korn Ferry Tour. Lindheim, 38, won The Ascendant presented by Blue in July – his third career Korn Ferry Tour title – as part of a torrid run where he is 8-for-8 in made cuts, including five top-10 finishes, to cement a spot in the top 30 on the season-long Korn Ferry Tour Points List.

    Lindheim is assured a nearly full slate of medical starts on the 2024 PGA TOUR, including an eligibility category for the current FedExCup Fall, but his Korn Ferry Tour performance means he’ll have a backup category on the 2024 PGA TOUR if needed.

    Most importantly, though, the adopted Floridian has gained confidence as he readies for a return to the game’s highest level. Long confident in his play off the tee and wedge game, Lindheim has been particularly pleased with his approach play throughout the summer, which he looks forward to put to the test at the TOUR level – for himself, and for his family.

    “I want to do it for other people more than myself,” said Lindheim after winning The Ascendant. “I know that may not sound true, but it is. My kids and my family are the world to me … this is really for them.”

    Nicholas Lindheim interview after winning the The Ascendant presented by Blue

    Lindheim and his wife Gracie have two elementary school-aged kids – daughter Shyla and son Myles – and things are often bustling around the household. Both play soccer, while Shyla participates in theater and Myles plays baseball. They’ve set up Astroturf in the backyard for soccer matches, which can get competitive. “I get to yell at them,” laughed Lindheim. “It’s been a lot of fun. These years are great.”

    Lindheim still feels sore, he admits, but he feels more confident in managing his back as he readies for a TOUR return. He has played freely with a looser mind, he said, throughout the summer. He’ll aim to maintain that as he looks to translate his Korn Ferry Tour success to the PGA TOUR level.

    The California native has recorded just one top-10 finish in 68 career TOUR starts, while he has notched 18 top-10s in 129 starts – including three wins – at the Korn Ferry Tour level. One thing perhaps working for him, though: he didn’t take up the game until age 19; he was a high school baseball pitcher that took up golf after an elbow injury curtailed his time on the diamond.

    Maybe a bit of rest and rejuvenation is exactly what he needed for a later-career flourish at the game’s highest level.

    “When you’re playing well, there’s nothing better,” Lindheim said. “The low times are the hard part. Having kids, family, it’s nice … when you’re struggling, they don’t care if I’m playing good or bad. It’s a good thing.

    “I really am grateful and thankful for what I have … it’s hard to be on all the time, and the best players in the world – there are very few of them, and we all look at them like, ‘Oh, that’s the standard.’ But most guys on TOUR, we have our good weeks and we’ve got to take advantage of those weeks.”

    Lindheim made good use of his Korn Ferry Tour tune-up, as well.

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    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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