Just days after doctors informed Todd Demsey his year-long battle with a brain tumor was all but over, he posted his best competitive round in five months.
It was a small accomplishment, a mere footnote amid the hoopla at the Nationwide Tour’s first 2004 event on U.S. soil, but its significance wasn’t lost on Demsey.
“This is the first time in a long time I’ve been healthy and able to make a full schedule,” Demsey said March 25 after the first round of the Louisiana Open.
Demsey opened with consecutive 69s and was looking for his first top-10 finish since September before a wild final nine – which included a double bogey, two bogeys and three birdies – dropped him into a tie for 16th place March 28.
Still, Demsey’s week marked a refreshing new chapter in a career plagued by injuries and poor timing.
Demsey underwent brain surgery early last year to remove a golf ball-sized mass from the lower, left side of his brain.
Sections of Demsey’s skull were removed, portions of the tumor taken out and his skull reassembled.
On Dec. 15, one day before his first wedding anniversary, Demsey underwent a second surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix to remove the remainder of the tumor behind his left sinus cavity.
Demsey, 31, began swinging a golf club again in mid-January and felt healthy enough to play the Nationwide Tour’s season opener in Panama, where he missed the cut with rounds of 76-70. He followed with similar poor performances in Australia and New Zealand.
“I wasn’t quite ready for that,” he said of the season’s international swing.
Familiar surroundings in Louisiana and a positive report from a magnetic resonance imaging test March 15 – “The doctors said they’re 99 percent sure it’s all gone,” Demsey said – was the spark he needed.
Demsey – who also missed most of the 2001 season because of a back injury – said his stamina is inching closer to what it was before the surgeries. He said he plans to play up to 28 events this season.
“My swing has been good the last couple of weeks but my mindset at a tournament – getting it in the hole – has been lagging,” said Demsey, who has two weeks off before his next start in Arkansas. “I’m not one who can quit for a while and just come right back.”