Snedeker Back After Incredible Surgery

Brandt Snedeker is a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour and two-time Ryder Cup player but the last eight months have been extraordinary even by his standards.

The 42-year-old, who has shot a 59 on Tour, had been struggling with a sternum injury and he would undergo a particularly rare piece of surgery to get him back on track.

Dr Burton Elrod made medical history in the early 2000s when he performed a procedure called Manubrium Joint Stabilization - this was on the late quarterback Steve McNair and involved using a plate attached with screws to his sternum to stabilise the bone. With the risk of infection so close to his heart and lungs he used bone from McNair’s right hip which he inserted into an area of cartilage that exists in the sternum.

“He’s a genius but he didn’t write any literature down the first time he performed the surgery because he didn’t want anyone to know he did it. He didn’t want to do it again," Snedeker explained.

After Snedeker persuaded the reluctant Elrod to perform it again it took three months for the operation to take place.

“I had to have a bone transplant doctor in the operating room, I had to have a thoracic surgeon there. It took two months to get clearance from the hospital to even do it,” Snedeker added.

“Five weeks out and I couldn’t do anything. My chest was cut wide open and sternum was broken and put back together; I was still in some pain,” he said. “It was tough watching San Diego and Palm Springs and Sony Open, places I love playing, and I was so far from being there and so far from seeing a path back.”

By week eight he was making some progress and and on April 1 he was told that he could hit balls again though 'nothing more than a pitching wedge'.

“Of course, I pulled out a 9-iron and hit one. I didn’t feel any pain and I knew at that point that before the surgery I would have felt pain. I was like, OK, I think this worked.”

In time he would be able to hit 5-irons and this week he's back playing on the PGA Tour.

“I figured out two things during this time off: I’m way too young to retire, and I’m unemployable. I’ve been managing it for years, can only hit so many golf balls, can only play so many days in a row, and then I’d have to shut it down. It’s nice to be able to go out there and put the work in,” he said. “It’s amazing. When you stop swinging in pain, all the bad tendencies I’ve had start to go away.”