Healthy Kendall hopes to play way back to TOUR

March 22, 2007
By Dave Lagarde Correspondent

BROUSSARD, La. -- He has been here and done that -- twice in fact.

So Skip Kendall knows life inside the ropes on the Nationwide Tour well enough. While he'd rather not be re-living his past in 2007 after 10 consecutive seasons on the PGA TOUR, he is determined to make the most of the opportunity at hand, knowing if he takes care of his business here it provides the best opportunity to get there -- the PGA TOUR -- again.

Inside the Numbers
Skip Kendall in 2007
Tournament Finish Tour
Movistar Panama Championship CUT Nationwide Tour
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am CUT PGA TOUR
Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun T9 PGA TOUR
The Honda Classic CUT PGA TOUR
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard T36 PGA TOUR

"You can hear the talk in the (PGA TOUR) locker rooms all the time, people saying, 'I'll never go back out there (the Nationwide Tour) again,''' Kendall said after opening with 5-under-par 66 in the first round of the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries, the first '07 event staged in the United States. "I just don't see it that way. I realize this is a great opportunity.

"This is a great TOUR with great players. It's probably much better now than when I was last here (in 1996).

There will be 25 TOUR cards given out at the end of this season. That gives me a wonderful chance to get back right where I want to be.''

Kendall, 42, had been there and done that -- the PGA TOUR -- for a decade. Although his best finish is a quartet of seconds, he earned more than one million dollars twice, won more than $7 million in his career and finished inside the top 125 on the money list from 1997 through 2004. But a series of medical mishaps, which began the night before Kendall was to open 2005 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, conspired to create a Murphy's Law year for the Milwaukee native.

"I had just finished working out and I bent over to pick up my towel,'' Kendall said, wincing at the thought. "I hurt something in my back.''

Kendall was forced to withdraw. He attempted to play through the pain but one aching body part led to another, prompting more withdrawals and spotty play. As luck would have it, just when Kendall was feeling better about his health and his game, his world suddenly and improbably began spinning out of control -- literally -- when he was afflicted with vertigo.

The circumstances are burned into Kendall's memory bank. He stood in a tie for 11th after the second round of the Westchester Classic when he and his wife and the couple they always stayed with just outside New York City went to dinner that evening.

"I didn't have anything to drink and I didn't do anything crazy,'' Kendall said.

But when Kendall attempted to get out of bed the next morning he basically was frozen in place. Every time he lifted his head he thought he was going to throw up. Another withdrawal followed as did a trip to the hospital where he was diagnosed.

"We all have crystals in our inner ear that serve as our gyroscope,'' Kendall said. "If they get out of place your equilibrium is thrown off.''

Professional golf is hard enough when a player has his health. Try playing when you look down, get dizzy and address three balls instead of one.

"I always tried to hit the ball in the middle,'' he said, laughing.

Kendall saw a specialist who eventually cured him after a series of visits. But the professional damage was done for 2005. He finished 202nd on the money list. He played in 2006 on his veteran's exemption, getting into 22 events. He made 14 cuts but had only one top 10. He earned almost $500,000, finishing 157th on the money list.

"That's why I'm out here,'' he said Thursday after completing his bogey-free 66 that has him six strokes behind overnight leader Brenden Pappas headed into Friday's second round of the 72-hole, $500,000 event.

The way Kendall sees it, his season starts in earnest here in Cajun Country. He journeyed to Panama, but missed the cut at the Movistar Panama Championship, the first event of 2007. He opted not to make the trek to Australia and New Zealand because he and his wife Traci welcomed their second child, Remi Lynn, in December. He used the time to play in four PGA TOUR events. He added his 25th career top 10 -- a tie for ninth at the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico -- to his resume. He knows he will play in a few other events in The Big Show, including the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, but likely will play the majority of his schedule on the Nationwide Tour unless he catches lightning in a bottle one week.

"The good news is I'm healthy and the things I've worked on the last 18 months seem to be coming together,'' Kendall said. "I can see progress in my game. I'm hitting it solid and looking forward to a good season.''