KORN FERRY TOUR FINALS
Percy overcomes freak accident to regain PGA TOUR card
August 27, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Cameron Percy has regained his PGA TOUR card for the 2019-20 season. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
A family holiday is usually spent relaxing, living easy and recharging the batteries before a long stretch of work.
It’s not supposed to be the potential catalyst for retirement.
That nearly happened for Cameron Percy earlier this year, but the 45-year-old toughed out a freak accident to re-earn a spot on the PGA TOUR next season after two great weeks at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Percy, who won the 2014 Price Cutter Charity Championship, turned professional 20 years ago. He’s bopped back-and-forth between the PGA TOUR and the Korn Ferry Tour and, at 45, admits it’s hard to stay motivated to keep on the grind of professional golf.
He has three kids who love sports and going to Carolina Hurricanes games. He wishes he could coach their teams and spend more time at home.
He nearly had that opportunity earlier this year after fracturing his wrist. But he’s back now and not even with a question of what’s to come next. It’s an emphatic statement: he’s going back to the PGA TOUR.
The Australian got off to a solid start earlier this year on the Korn Ferry Tour. He didn’t miss a cut in his first six events and had two top-10 finishes. With ‘heaps’ of golf left in 2019, he decided to take the week of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship off, since it coincided with his kids’ spring break.
In the last two hours of the holiday, he was walking alongside one of his sons next to the pool and looked down to ask him what he wanted for lunch. By the time he looked up, he had slipped on wet concrete. After putting his arm out to try to stop the fall, he sprained his shoulder. He cut his elbow and was bleeding.
He tried to lift a suitcase into a taxi when his family was leaving and couldn’t do it. That’s when he realized there was something wrong with his wrist.
His initial reaction was to think to three players he has known throughout his career who fractured their wrists, and none came back to play again.
“I thought, ‘Well s—t’ this is not good,’” he says.
Percy was in a cast for three weeks and then played the REX Hospital Open in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he calls home. His warm-up that week only consisted of him hitting 20 balls off a high tee with a wedge so he didn’t do any further damage to his wrist.
He finished tied for 17th that week.
He was convinced to play the next week at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, where he finished runner-up in 2012, but he overdid it. He played two 18-hole practice rounds, hit balls, and practiced, like normal. He shot 69 in the first round but by the time he finished he was letting go of clubs in his follow-through. That was it.
“After that, I had complication after complication,” he says. “I had pins and needles in my arm I couldn’t get rid of. Eventually, a month later, the pins and needles went away and I tried to play again at the (LECOM Health Challenge) but my fingers went completely numb. I couldn’t feel anything in my fingers.”
Percy says even now, the ring finger on his left hand is numb. Up until the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, he didn’t really practice. He lost so much strength in his swing and remains at about 70 percent, he says. Last week in Boise he tried to hit stingers off the tee because it was firm and fast, but the impact on the ground was too much. He started teeing it up high instead.
All in, Percy played only 10 events during the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season (including his BMW Charity Pro-Am withdrawal).
His good early-season results earned him a spot in the Finals, and he has – somehow, by his own admission – finished T11 at both the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco. He has earned enough points to regain status on the PGA TOUR for 2019-20.
It certainly hasn’t been easy, but Percy is ready to give it another go next season.
“I honestly thought a couple times, ‘Wow, this isn’t going very well. I can see why the guys couldn’t come back,’” he says. “You see the shots you want to hit and you can’t do it. Your body won’t react how you want it to. It’s quite a bit of a process to get your full strength back.
“You think you’re alright but you’re nowhere near it, so you think, ‘Well, I guess that’s it. I just can’t play golf.’”
Percy admits that, at 45, he has to play a different kind of game than those teeing it up alongside him. He was paired with Grayson Murray and Charlie Saxon last week in Boise, for example, and they were hitting it more than 50 yards past him off the tee.
“When you go out and play against guys who are 21 years old, you think you’re wasting your time,” he says. “But my good golf is good enough, and you’ve got to be positive with it.”
He has been around the game long enough, he says, that even watching the longest hitters do their thing is pretty cool. When they’re on, they’re hard to beat, but he has remained very solid with his short-iron ball striking, which has been the difference these last few weeks.
His short game has kept him in it, along with a desire to play dad.
“I’d love to have a year or two of really good golf so I don’t need to play golf anymore,” he says, “so I can come and support (my kids) and be at home and be a dad. That’s the biggest thing.”
And while he doesn’t have the length of many TOUR pros, or even a clean bill of health, he does have something many young golf stars would love to have – a PGA TOUR card.