Healing hands come up trumps on PGA Tour


Twice Masters champion Bernhard Langer has visited them on a regular basis, as have fellow former world number ones Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. Without their help, players such as American journeyman Kris Blanks and Australian left-hander Greg Chalmers would have been forced to pull out of several tournaments in which they ended up faring well. The people in question are the five physical therapists and four athletic trainers who ply their trade on a daily basis on the PGA Tour and its senior equivalent, the Champions Tour.
“Almost everybody on tour walks through our door at some point during the season,” PGA Tour physical therapist Jeff Hendra told Reuters. “I always tell people we have three groups of golfers on tour. “Our regulars come in every day regardless. Whether they have an injury, an ache or pain or if they are as healthy as they can be, they are in. And they are the guys that I love because they stay on top of things. “They do what we call pre-hab. They do the work before they get injured. So when they do get injured, we know them very well, we know their bodies. We know how they move, where their restrictions are.” Hendra said the second group of players visited the state-of-the-art clinical trailer, which has become a permanent fixture at every PGA Tour event, only when they were injured while a handful very rarely made an appearance. Without the help of Hendra and his co-workers, scores of players would almost certainly have been forced to withdraw from events because of back trouble, shoulder injuries, hand and knee problems or various other ailments over the past decade. In many of these cases, however, physiotherapy treatment throughout the week of the tournament has come up trumps. “Five or six years ago at the Players Championship, Bernhard Langer was struggling with some back pain and we treated him all week,” Hendra recalled of Germany’s former world number one. “He came in on the Tuesday of that week saying, ‘I don’t know if I can play. I think I may have to withdraw.’ But we treated him and he got progressively and significantly better as the week went along. “In fact, Bernhard put himself in contention on the Sunday but then trailed off toward the end of the day.” Tour veteran Langer, who developed back problems at the age of 19 during an 18-month stint as a member of the German Air Force, tied for 15th at that Players Championship in 2008 despite closing with a 77. Burly American Blanks, twice a runner-up on the PGA Tour without yet claiming a maiden title, played his first event on the U.S. circuit in more than six months at last week’s Phoenix Open after battling a left shoulder injury. “Kris had been out for a significant amount of time and was toying with the idea of surgery but we got him playing in Phoenix,” Hendra said. “I think the last time I saw him was at the Canadian Open in July. “At Q-school in December he was really struggling but my co-workers helped him along. He not only finished the six rounds, which is a grind, but played outstandingly and kept his card.”