2006: Long irons almost long gone

Virada Nirapathpongporn had just started her LPGA career, earning $18,204 in the season’s first four events, including a tie for 15th at the MasterCard Classic. Now a serious eye injury has the former Duke All-American and 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion unsure when she will play next.

Nirapathpongporn, 23, injured the eye March 31 in an accident while doing shoulder exercises with a resistance tube (exercise rubber band) at her Orlando, Fla., home. Nirapathpongporn, known as “Oui” to most, said the band was hooked to a door and came off and hit her near the bottom of her right eye, leaving the vision in her right eye blurry at best.

She was told by her doctor that she is suffering from a condition called hyphema, or internal bleeding in the eye, and since the accident she has been required to constantly

sit up straight with no bending, allowing the blood to drain. Her prognosis is uncertain, though she said April 3 that her sight had improved slightly.

“The last two days I have done nothing but sit upright for 24-7,” said Nirapathpongporn, who earned her LPGA card by finishing in the top 5 on the 2005 Futures Tour money list. “(My vision) is very blurry – almost nothing – but at least it is getting better.”

She said she hopes for a full recovery but is unsure when she can return to the tour. She would not rule out the next stop April 13-15 at the Takefuji Classic in Las Vegas.

“It’s kind of scary when you can’t see,” she said. “I am a professional golfer and need my eyesight.”

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