PEABODY -- Ten and a half years ago, Brandt Jobe looked down at his golf game. It was lying there on his garage floor, right next to his thumb and index finger.
Jobe had been sweeping out his garage when he made the kind of mistake that can get you in trouble on a golf course. He got too aggressive. As a result, the broom handle snapped, severing off the tip of his left index finger and the base of this thumb. Where does a golfer go from there?
Jobe had earned slightly more than $2.9 million on the PGA Tour the previous two years and had reason to believe at 41 he was finally coming into his own. Then, in an instant, he had a far different notion.
"I thought that was it," Jobe recalled yesterday after proving it was not by shooting a U.S. Senior Open record-tying round of 62 at Salem Country Club to put him alone in third place, 6 shots behind Kirk Triplett's 15-under.
Perhaps because his father was a doctor or perhaps because he watched "ER," Jobe had the presence of mind to scoop up those two fingers and wrap them in ice before putting them in a bag and heading to the hospital.
Several surgeries later, they were reattached but no one was sure he'd ever play golf again because, frankly, nothing quite like this had ever happened.
Jobe's left hand had already caused him problems two years earlier when he shattered the hamate bone, limiting him to nine Tour starts. Now the damage was more severe, limiting him so much he would average only six tournament appearances a year over the next four seasons and wonder at times whether he was chasing a dream that no longer existed.
"A lot of times," Jobe said when asked if he'd considered a new line of work. "I was going to physical therapy five days a week for two hours. I'd overcompensated and hurt my wrist. I kept asking 'when can I play?' When I turned 50 I still had 11 (injury) exemptions left. We were trying to figure out when I'd be healthy."
All together Jobe has had eight surgeries, all on the left side of his body. His left hand, wrist and finger problems were soon joined by the need for shoulder surgery. Then a herniated disc in July 2012, shut him down again.
He'd already retreated to the Nationwide Tour in 2010 but rallied a year later, collecting four top-10 finishes in 28 PGA Tour events. But the following July that disc injury began a new set of maladies that within two years left him without a single start on the PGA Tour for the first time since 1989. He did manage a spot in the Web.com Tour finals because of a non-exempt medical extension but it didn't help. He missed the cut. Perseverance is an admirable trait but at that juncture one had to wonder if common sense was eluding him.
"Unfortunately I've had a lot of injuries that kind of plagued me," he said. "Freak injuries. Shattered my hamate bone twice, out for two years. Cut my fingers off with a broom, out for three years. And all that time you try and play, you know you don't play good.
"You pick up bad habits and you play worse and it gets more frustrating. I don't know what my Tour career was, maybe 14 years, but I probably spent seven of them hurt."
Jobe somehow managed those frustrations and pressed on, playing in six Tour events in 2015 but earning only $12,825. He fared no better on the Web.com, where he had only one start. But he did win medalist honors at PGA Tour Champions Q School, which was worth a $30,000 check and new life on the senior circuit in 2016.
The Senior Tour has been a rebirth for many over-50 pro golfers but with his aches, pains, plus the need to tape his golf glove to his left thumb so he can feel the club's pressure, it seemed unlikely it would be his. But in his first full season, Jobe began playing as he always believed he could. He had seven top-10 finishes and finished in a tie for third at the Senior PGA Championship, fourth at the Constellation Players Championship and tied for fifth in the Senior U.S. Open.
After all he'd been subjected to from golf and broom sticks, Jobe would have had good reason to fear 2017, but, as he proved long ago, fear is something he finds is best to ignore.
This year he already has recorded two top-3s, was eighth at the Senior PGA and two weeks ago won his first Champions Tour event by a shot, giving him tremendous momentum coming to Salem. Yet after beginning yesterday tied for 29th, Jobe's thoughts were neither on shooting 62 nor climbing to the top of the leaderboard.
"I wasn't thinking that," Jobe admitted. "I'd played OK the first two days (but) I really scored poorly. So I kind of thought, boy, if you go out there and shoot 4- or 5-under, then another 4- or 5-under, you can get yourself a top-10, top-5 finish. That was possible.
"I'm out there, obviously, trying to play catch-up. Just trying to go as low as you can. Try to make as many birdies as you can on Saturday."
By the end of the day, he'd made nine, including a phenomenal six on the final seven holes, with only a bogey on eight marring a record-tying round. More than that, it had put him not only in position to win his first major but to show his two teenage kids what it was like for their dad to play golf the way he knew he could.
"I got my kids here," Jobe said proudly. "They haven't been out here in quite some time so I'm going to bring them through. You work so hard, and you try and win. The ultimate goal is to win golf tournaments. That's how everybody measures you. You can have a great career and pile up some money, but at the end of the day, what did you win?
"So that was obviously nice, obviously a relief (winning two weeks ago), obviously telling me the things I'm doing are good enough to win. So just stay down that same path and keep giving yourself opportunities."
Despite suffering the golfing equivalent of the trials of Job, Brandt Jobe has clearly done that ... and not just yesterday.
This article is written by Ron Borges from Boston Herald and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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