It was a simple enough question. "What happened with your hand," Arron Oberholser was asked. "We don't have that much time," he said. Forty minutes later, he was done talking - but not done looking for an answer.
It was a simple enough question.
“What happened with your hand,” Arron Oberholser was asked.
“We don’t have that much time,” he said.
Forty minutes later, he was done talking — but not done looking for an answer.
It has been seven long, painful and frustrating years since Oberholser was a rising new name on the PGA Tour in 2006, when he scored his first tour victory at Pebble Beach and finished 23rd on the money list.
Four surgeries on his left hand and wrist, and another to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, have left him, at 38, pondering whether he will give the PGA Tour yet another go next year or finally give in to the pain.
“Not because I don’t want to do it,” he said, “but because my body’s not allowing me to do it."
Oberholser painstakingly reviewed his medical history yesterday while sitting just off the 18th green at the Ohio State Scarlet Course, where he hopes to play on Thursday in the first round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
“Hopes” is the operative word. Two weeks ago in Fort Wayne, Ind., his scarred left arm felt good enough for him to play the first leg of the Web.com Tour Finals, the four-event series that will give 25 players exempt status on the PGA Tour next year. It was his first tournament in five months, and he tied for 18th.
But last week his hand didn’t feel as good, and he was forced to withdraw from the tournament in Charlotte, N.C.
“You can’t play at 75 percent out here against these guys. They’re too good. And I’m trying to play some weeks at less than 75 percent,” Oberholser said. “Last week, I would have been at 35 percent. I could barely swing the golf club. This week, I’m a little better. I’m probably at 65 to 75 percent.”
It all started in 2007, during the second round of the Byron Nelson Classic in Texas. Oberholser “overcooked” a drive on the 18th hole, he said, and his ball stopped in front of high grass. The lie was soft and playable, he thought, but he had to swing at a steep angle.
“The club stopped on impact,” he said. “It felt like someone drove an ice pick through my wrist."
The fallout was not instantaneous. In fact, Oberholser finished the tournament and tied for seventh the next week. Despite some discomfort, he played through the summer and tied for fourth in the PGA Championship and for second in the Deutsche Bank Championship in the first year of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
But in the first round of the BMW Championship the following week, he caught a lie against the lip of a bunker, had no choice but to try to whack it out and paid the price. He withdrew a few holes later.
What ensued were countless visits to doctors across the country, each of whom seemed to diagnose something different. But none made the pain go away.
Oberholser’s last surgery was Aug. 13, 2010. Doctors told him it could be a year and a half before he was healthy enough to play again. He didn’t expect it to be three.
Regardless of whether he plays this week, or in the Web.com Tour Championship in two weeks, he will have status on the PGA Tour when the new season begins in October. Qualifying via the Finals would give him a full exemption, but even without that, he has 10 tournaments remaining on an injury exemption.
But he’s tired of playing in pain, and said if he doesn’t earn a full exemption in these next two events, or can’t even play in them, he may have had enough.
“I’d have to think the writing’s on the wall,” Oberholser said. “I’d think it’s time to retire and call it a day and find something else to do.”
Pros and their starting times today in the Nationwide
Children’s Hospital Championship Pro-Am at the Ohio
State Scarlet Course:
7:15 a.m.-John Peterson; 7:24-Scott Gardiner; 7:33-Brice Garnett; 7:42-Bobby Gates; 7:51-Ricky Barnes; 8-Ben Curtis; 8:09-Alistair Presnell; 8:18-Sean O’Hair; 8:27-Chesson Hadley; 8:36-Camilo Benedetti; 8:45-Will McKenzie; 8:54-Seung-Yul Noh; 9:03-Peter Malnati; 9:12-Ryo Ishikawa; 9:21-Brendon Todd;
12:30 p.m.-Chris DiMarco; 12:39-Hudson Swafford; 12:48-Wes Roach; 12:57-Nick O’Hern; 1:06-Danny Lee; 1:15-Bill Lunde; 1:24-Michael Putnam; 1:33-Russell Knox; 1:42-Lee Williams; 1:51-Jeff Klauk; 2-D.J. Trahan; 2:09-Joe Durant; 2:18-Ben Kohles; 2:27-Daniel Chopra; 2:36-Henrik Norlander.
7:15 a.m.-Ben Martin; 7:24-Kevin Kisner; 7:33-Bud Cauley; 7:42-Will Claxton; 7:51-Jonathan Byrd; 8-Greg Owen; 8:09-Tim Wilkinson; 8:18-Ryan Spears; 8:27-Adam Crawford; 8:36-Vaughn Taylor; 8:45-Heath Slocum; 8:54-Troy Merritt; 9:03-D.J. Brigman; 9:12-Troy Matteson; 9:21-Trevor Immelman;
12:30 p.m.-Andrew Svoboda; 12:39-Bhavik Patel; 12:48-Scott Dunlap; 12:57-Arron Oberholser; 1:06-Edward Loar; 1:15-Chad Campbell; 1:24-Jason Gore; 1:33-Alexandre Rocha; 1:42-Hunter Haas; 1:51-Tim Petrovic; 2-Chad Collins; 2:09-Mathew Goggin; 2:18-Peter Tomasulo; 2:27-Aron Price; 2:36-Roland Thatcher.Thursday’s tee times Tee 1
7:40 a.m. — Bobby Gates, Seung-Yul Noh, Troy Merritt
7:51 — Sean O’Hair, Ryan Spears, Adam Crawford
8:02 — Brandon Todd, Tim Wilkinson, Camilo Benedetti
8:13 — Alex Prugh, Chesson Hadley, Kris Blanks
8:24 — Robert Karlsson, Whee Kim, Jim Herman
8:35 — Robert Streb, Scott McCarron, Billy Hurley III
8:46 — Mark Anderson, Casey Wittenberg, Matt Davidson
8:57 — Ariel Canete, Glen Day, Steve Marino
9:08 — Tag Ridings, Franklin Corpening, Dickey Pride
9:19 —Dawie van der Walt, Jonathan Byrd, Richard S. Johnson
9:30 —Byron Smith, Oscar Fraustro
12:30 p.m. — Hudson Swafford, Bhavik Patel, Wes Roach
12:41 — Bud Cauley, Ryo Ishikawa, Troy Matteson
12:52 —Andew Svoboda, Ben Martin, Scott Gardiner
1:03 —Tim Petrovic, Ben Kohles, Chad Collins
1:14 — Jeff Klauk, Edward Loar, D.J. Trahan
1:25 — Henrik Norlander, Cameron Percy, Bill Lunde
1:36 — Andres Gonzales, Len Mattiace, Jason Gore
1:47 —Shawn Stefani, Chad Campbell, Nick Rousey
1:58 — Cameron Beckman, Matt Bettencourt, Brad Fritsch
2:09 — Brett Stegmaler, Steve LeBrun, Fernando Mechereffe
2:20 — Adam Hadwin, Jim Park, Guy BorosTee 10
7:40 a.m. — Ricky Barnes, Peter Malnati, Will Claxton
7:51 — Kevin Kisner, Michael Putnam, Brice Garnett
8:02 — John Peterson, Trevor Immelman, Will MacKenzie
8:13 —D.J. Brigman, Aaron Watkins, Colt Knost
8:24 — David Mathis, Steve Wheatcroft, Brandt Jobe
8:35 — Alex Aragon, Kelly Kraft, Jamie Lovemark
8:46 — Bronson La”Cassie, Andrew D. Putnam, Kevin Foley
8:57 — Miguel Angel Carballo, Nick Flanagan, Scott Parel
9:08 — Tom Hoge, Kevin Tway, Luke List
9:19 —Nathan Green, Doug LaBelle II, Spencer Levin
9:30 — Marcel Slem, Alex Cejka, Darron Stiles
12:30 p.m. — Scott Dunlap, Nick O’Hern, Danny Lee
12:41 — Allstair Presnell, Hunter Haas, Russell Knox
12:52 —Greg Owen, Heath Slocum, Vaughn Taylor
1:03 — Lee Williams, Arron Oberholser, Alexandre Rocha
1:14 — Matthew Goggin, Joe Durant, Daniel Chopra
1:25 — Peter Tomasulo, Aron Price, Roland Thatcher
1:36 — Rod Pampling, Shane Bertsch, Jhonattan Vegas
1:47 —Scott Harrington, Steven Alker, Philip Pettitt Jr.
1:58 — Jim Renner, Fabian Gomez, Chris DiMarco
2:09 — Tom Gillis, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Ben Curtis
2:20 — Ashley Hall, Andrew LoupeFriday’s tee times Tee 1
7:40 a.m. — Scott Dunlap, Nick O’Hern, Danny Lee
7:51 — Allstair Presnell, Hunter Haas, Russel Knox
8:02 — Greg Owen, Heath Slocum, Vaughn Taylor
8:13 — Lee Williams, Arron Oberholder, Alexandre Rocha
8:24 — Matthew Goggin, Joe Durant, Daniel Chopra
8:35 — Peter Tomasulo, Aron Price, Roland Thatcher
8:46 — Rod Pampling, Shane Bertsch, Jhonattan Vegas
8:57 — Scott Harrington, Steven Alker, Philip Pettitt Jr.
9:08 — Jim Renner, Fabian Gomez, Chris DiMarco
9:19 —Tom Gillis, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Ben Curtis
9:30 —Ashley Hall, Andrew Loupe
12:30 p.m. — Ricky Barnes, Peter Malnati, Will Claxton
12:41 — Kevin Kisner, Michael Putnam, Brice Garnett
12:52 —John Peterson, Trevor Immelman, Will MacKenzie
1:03 —D.J. Brigman, Aaron Watkins, Colt Knost
1:14 — David Mathis, Steve Wheatcroft, Brandt Jobe
1:25 — Alex Aragon, Kelly Kraft, Jamie Lovemark
1:36 — Bronson La’Cassie, Andrew D. Putnam, Kevin Foley
1:47 —Miguel Angel Carballo, Nick Flanagan, Scott Parel
1:58 — Tom Hoge, Kevin Tway, Luke List
2:09 — Nathan Green, Doug LaBelle II, Spencer Levin
2:20 — Marcel Slem, Alex Cejka, Darron StilesTee 10
7:40 a.m. — Hudson Swafford, Bhavik Patel, Wes Roach
7:51 — Bud Cauley, Ryo Ishikawa, Troy Matteson
8:02 — Andrew Svoboda, Ben Martin, Scott Gardiner
8:13 — Tim Petrovic, Ben Kohles, Chad Collins
8:24 — Jeff Klauk, Edward Loar, D.J. Trahan
8:35 — Henrik Norlander, Cameron Percy, Bill Lunde
8:46 — Andres Gonzales, Len Mattiace, Jason Gore
8:57 — Shawn Stefani, Chad Campbell, Nick Rousey
9:08 — Cameron Beckman, Matt Bettencourt, Brad Fritsch
9:19 —Brett Stegmaier, Steve LeBrun, Fernando Mechereffe
9:30 —Adam Hadwin, Jim Park, Guy Boros
12:30 p.m. — Bobby Gates, Seung-Yul Noh, Troy Merritt
12:41 — Sean O’Hair, Ryan Spears, Adam Crawford
12:52 —Brandon Todd, Tim Wilkinson, Camilo Benedetti
1:03 —Alex Prugh, Chesson Hadley, Kris Blanks
1:14 — Robert Karlsson, Whee Kim, Jim Herman
1:25 — Robert Streb, Scott McCarron, Billy Hurley III
1:36 — Mark Anderson, Casey Wittenberg, Matt Davidson
1:47 —Ariel Canete, Glen Day, Steve Marino
1:58 — Tag Ridings, Franklin Corpening, Dicky Pride
2:09 — Dawie van der Walt, Jonathan Byrd, Richard S. Johnson
2:20 — Byron Smith, Oscar Fraustro