Arron Oberholser was really hoping that this comeback would be the one – the last one. Instead, it lasted only one week – and it might mark the end of his promising but oft-interrupted career.
Oberholser, 38, withdrew from the Web.com Tour's Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship on Wednesday because of recurring pain in his left hand, and said afterward that his competitive career – during which he has missed close to five years because of wrist and hand issues – is likely over.
''I don't know where I'm going to go from here. Home first of all to talk to the doctor and my wife and figure out if there’s anything else I can do,'' he told PGATour.com. ''I feel like I've pretty much exhausted all efforts and now it may be a matter of the ''R'' word. The forced R-word is looming over me more than ever now.''
If this is indeed the end of his playing career, he added, he's okay with that.
''I've thought about that a lot and if that's the case and I decide to do that (retire), then I'll accept that,'' he said. ''There might be a little bitterness, I won't lie about that. Five of my best years were taken away from me, but it's a professional sport and these kinds of things happen. I'm not the only guy that this has happened to.''
Oberholser, 38, won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2002, jumped up to the PGA Tour in 2003 and played more than five years without incident. His best season came in 2006, PGATour.com said, when he made 20 of 23 cuts, had 13 top-25 finishes and ended the year No. 23rd on the money list.
After his latest absence, he teed it up in the first Web.com Tour Finals event, where he posted encouraging rounds of 66-68-68 before a final-round 73 bumped him down into a tie for 18th place. Unfortunately, the pain returned, and he was forced to skip last week's second Finals event. He was hoping to play both this week and next week before the pain flared up again during his pro-am round on Wednesday.
''It's very disappointing. Because of the way I played and how it felt for the first three days in Fort Wayne, I really thought I licked this thing,'' he said. ''I thought I was on my way back up to where I was and where I have been and that I was just continuing a journey with a minor five-year gap. Unfortunately, it might not work out that way.''
The equipment companies that support many of golf's biggest winners often create keepsakes to celebrate their golfing glory. On Tuesday, we saw two of the latest creations.
On the left of the photo above is a gold Odyssey Versa putter commemorating Phil Mickelson's victory in the British Open. On the bottom, it says ''Phil Mickelson, 2013 Champion, The Open Championship.'' Callaway Golf club design guru Roger Cleveland tweeted out the photo, and I'm presuming that's his hand holding the magic wand.
On the right side is a box from Titleist marking Jason Dufner's victory in the PGA Championship. Up top is Dufner's signature in gold, and the box contains a golden Titleist #1 ball and more commemorations of Oak Hill. Jason Dufner tweeted out this photo on Tuesday as well, and Titleist added another shot that proved that Dufner didn't get his souvenir for free – no, the other shot showed him hard at work signing pin flags in the Titleist trailer at The BMW Championship!
Major champions get an awful lot for their victories – historic trophies (and sometimes green jackets), a ton of money, years' worth of exemptions, and more fame (and marketing opportunities) than they know what to do with. I bet, however, that these personal keepsakes, created and presented to them by people so intimately involved in their on-course success, mean as much to them as anything.
PGA of America Championships
Pete Dye Course
French Lick, Ind.
Westchester Country Club
Philadelphia Cricket Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club