New season, new health for several players

Jhonattan Vegas during the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

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A number of sore spots from the 2013 PGA Tour season seem to be cleared up, at least if you go by the first few tournaments of this wrap-around season. An update on a few who are bouncing back from injuries:

• Spencer Levin: He insists “there are no health issues, I’m good.” He held out his left hand to show the scar where surgery was performed on his thumb and smiled. “It’s not an issue anymore.”

Having sat out the entire 2013 season (he did get to play seven Web.com Tour events as “rehab” starts), Levin has earned $115,140 in his two tournaments thus far, so he has 26 tournaments in which to earn $480,343 in order to regain his card.

“I don’t feel as if there’s pressure to do it,” Levin said. “I’ve got a full year, which is nice.”

• Blake Adams: He played just twice in 2013, but nothing after the Farmers Insurance Open. Instead, he opted for hip surgery and so far, so good. He came back and missed the cut at the Frys.com Open, but withdrew before the start of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

Adams’ agent, Alan Bullington, said it was more a precautionary move after some hip flexor issues.

“Structurally, everything is healthy,” Bullington said. “He’s just not quite ready and doesn’t want to waste any starts.”

Adams now has 23 left to make $595,483.

• Jonathan Byrd: Having had surgery on his left wrist in the fall of 2012, Jonathan Byrd gave himself ample opportunity to rest before starting his 2013 season – or so he thought.

“Hindsight is 20/20, but when I told Tom Watson that the doctors told me to take fourth months (rest) but I’m going to give it five, he said, ‘Come back in six. It takes a while.’ I should have listened to him.”

Byrd feels he came back too soon in 2013 so after playing in just 13 tournaments and failing to make the FedEx Cup playoffs, he went back to the sidelines. He returned for the Shriners in Las Vegas, finished T-57, but felt fine.

“It’s just been a mental struggle more than a physical one,” said Byrd.

He has nine more tournaments in which to earn $153,197 to keep his card.

“I will be happy when I get that past me and I can focus on the regular season,” Byrd said. “That’s my first goal.”

• Jhonattan Vegas: The Venezuelan hadn’t played since last year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, choosing to relieve left shoulder pain with surgery.

He missed the cut at the Frys.com Open and finished poorly at the Shriners, earning just $24,600 in those two events. Thus does he have 19 tournaments in which to earn $570,883 to regain his card.

• Briny Baird: He only had a couple of re-hab assignments on the Web.com Tour, so his major medical extension dates back to 2012 when he played just 13 times.

Having finished T-26 and T-36 each of the first two weeks to earn a total of $64,375, Baird has 16 tournaments left in which to make $429,024 and keep his card.

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