Former champ Bowdo upbeat in back recovery
April 03, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
Valero Texas Open preview
Steven Bowditch has never liked making excuses.
And to be fair, the scans and tests he’d had weren’t providing any.
And so even when deep down he knew something was wrong with his body as his game was deserting him the former Valero Texas Open and AT&T Byron Nelson champion just figured he could work his way out of it.
As an old school Australian he’d half scold himself … toughen up princess. Work harder. Find it in the dirt. Play through it.
He did keep playing and the result was missing 25 of 27 cuts in 2016-17 and then missing the weekend in all eight tournaments he played in 2017-18.
But the lower back pain, sciatic pain, numbness in the legs, tingling in his toes and then a loss of control in his right side just couldn’t be in his head.
Finally, after two years of the battle with his body, Bowditch took a new test. A moving x-ray.
Hallelujah. Well in a way.
You see the good news was there finally was a result that made sense. Pars Defect and Spondylolysis.
The bad news … time for spinal fusion of the L5 and S1. Just like Tiger Woods.
“There was a sigh of relief, I guess. To know what was going on with my body and to know there was a reason my game left me … it wasn’t just a complete mental breakdown,” Bowditch says from his Dallas home.
The 35-year-old underwent the surgery late last year and is now in the midst of recovery. After near two months laying predominantly in bed, he’s now hitting maybe 20-30 balls every few days at about 60 or 70 percent. Just a few 9-irons or wedges and the occasional putt.
The former International Presidents Cup team member says the toughest part is actually having to have the limits.
“I miss the grind to be honest. I miss the practice and the grind to get better,” he says.
But he knows not to push things too hard. He continues rehab four times a week and at this stage he hopes to be making a comeback in his home country late in the year. He will attempt to procure some sponsors invites and play in late November and through December.
Bowditch lost his PGA TOUR card before the injury revelation and as such doesn’t fit under a medical exemption. As a result he will hit the 2020 Web.com Tour season from where he is hoping to find his way back to the TOUR.
“It might sound silly but coming back via the Web is even better in my eyes,” Bowditch – who also boast two Web.com Tour title – says.
“It’s where my PGA TOUR career began and the best avenue to climbing my way back.”
“It really is going back to the start with my golf. As much as I want to be on TOUR the Web should be a great spot to recalibrate my game and get my swing in order. There are also so many mental barriers that I’ll need to pass coming back off an injury.”
Seeing 80-time PGA TOUR winner Woods make a successful return from the surgery is also a bonus for Bowditch.
“His swing has changed a fair bit post-surgery so seeing that is a good thing in my eyes – knowing that it won’t be the same, but that it can be done,” he says
“I guess for all athletes in any sport coming off an injury … whether it’s an ankle, a knee or whatever it is … you might be having doubts your speed and power is still going to be there under the gun … It is all part of the process I am going through now.”
While recovery is never easy Bowditch has found a serious silver lining in his time out of the game … the ability to be at the coalface of fatherhood.
Bowditch and his wife Amanda have a young daughter Kelly Anne and the now two-year-old has given him plenty of happiness amongst the recuperation process.
“Even when I was stuck in bed for six to eight weeks and only up and about for an hour or so each day … just to see her daily growth, her mannerisms change … it was a neat experience,” Bowditch beams.
“Most people with families know how tough it can be when you’re working nine to five, particularly if you have travel. It always takes a team effort, and I’m lucky to have a great team around me, but you want to be around for the little things. The talking and the first walking and that kind of stuff. It has definitely worked out great to be around to watch her grow.
“If this was ever going to happen, I’m lucky that it happened at this time, in this way, so I can be part of these years.”