Making the cut at the 2016 Honda Classic saved Jason Bohn's life

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Making the cut at the 2016 Honda Classic saved Jason Bohn's life

PGA Tour

Making the cut at the 2016 Honda Classic saved Jason Bohn's life

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jason Bohn missed the cut at the Honda Classic on Friday, signed his card, and was ready to do all those things that golfers who miss the cut on the PGA Tour do on Fridays. Grab a shower. Get a quick bite. And get out of Dodge, dashing off to the airport to fly home.

One year earlier, he’d actually made the Honda cut on the number, which would appear to be no big deal. He was nine shots behind the leader, after all, and nearly slipped outside the line when his approach to the haunting 17th landed right of a right-side flag on a hole guarded by water.

Missing the cut, for Bohn, would have meant much more than a weekend off. It easily could have robbed him of all his weekends. With nary a doubt, making that cut saved his life. Bohn is convinced of that (“One hundred percent,” he said.”One hundred percent.”) He had felt shooting pangs and tightness in his chest while finishing his round that day, and knowing he’d likely be playing on the weekend, he gathered his valuables from his bag, removed his tees from his pocket and thought, eventually, he’d be safe and get himself checked out. 

You may remember parts of Bohn’s story: Some quick-thinking on-site medical personnel sent Bohn directly to nearby Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center (he’d wanted to shower, change and drive himself there) and once there, he was discovered to be in the midst of a major heart attack. Doctors found 99 percent blockage in his left anterior descending artery – the infamous Widow Maker. 

One year on, Bohn, married with two sons, is feeling healthy again, but mostly he is just grateful to be here. Missing a cut was no big deal. 

“Being here stirred up a lot of emotions, actually,” Bohn said, reflecting on his week. “I just said in the scoring trailer, ‘I think I shot 73 last year on Friday (he shot 72), but I was having a heart attack. This year I shot 73 without having one.’

 “Mostly the emotions were grateful emotions that I’m able to play and compete.”

Earlier in the week, Bohn had played a practice round with his longtime pal, Carl Pettersson. The two always have a Tuesday game on Tour. Bohn took in his surroundings one year after surviving a terrifying scare, and Pettersson broke the ice with levity, as only a good buddy can.

“He was poking me,” Bohn said. “You know, like, ‘How’d you feel on this hole? What exactly were you feeling here?’ We were having fun. So yeah, I thought about it more on Tuesday than I guess I did the rest of the week.”

A day later, Bohn visited the hospital, meeting up with some of the doctors who treated him. In his more serious moments – and Bohn knows this has to sound strange – he says the heart attack that could have ended his life at 42 is one of the best things that ever happened to him.

“I’d say, as a Tour pro, we get so spoiled every week,” Bohn said. “When you’re a rookie and you first come out here, you love everything. Everything is great, and you’re smelling the roses. 

“I’ve been out here, what, 14 years or so, and you kind of lose sight of really where you are and what you’re doing for a living. So that kind of ‘awoke’ me to all of that again. And it awoke me to little times with my family, like time that my wife and I can have lunch together. Or if I’m taking my kids somewhere . . . Little things like that. A lot of people go through a mid-life crisis; I really believe that mine was a mid-life awakening. It slapped me in the face and said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a lot of ‘great’ right here in front of you.’”

Bohn is a spunky, upbeat, positive kind of fellow. He never has been a world-beater on Tour, but is somebody widely respected for his can-do attitude and his professionalism. While a sophomore attending the University of Alabama in 1992, Bohn made a hole-in-one in a contest offering $1 million, and had to turn pro to accept the money. So he did. Up until 2013, he received an annual payment of $50,000 each fall; he used to joke that he’d make sure to be home and be waiting at his mailbox each time the check arrived..

It wasn’t the last million dollars he would see. This week’s Honda Classic marked his 326th career PGA Tour start, and Bohn, a two-time winner who last won in 2010 (Zurich Classic), has nearly $16 million in career earnings. 

That’s not what he’s about, or what his life is about. He’s far more into being a husband to Tewana and a father to sons Conner and Cameron. A year ago, the Bohn family had their entire foundation shaken.

“It’s scary,” Pettersson said. “He could have easily died. If he would have gone back to the room and taken a nap, that could have been it. I couldn’t believe it when it happened.

“I think this affected him a little bit. He’s got a new lease on life, and he’s taking advantage of it.”

As Bohn sat in the hospital for five days last February, he thought about his career, sure (“I didn’t know if I’d play golf again, but figured I would,” he said) but gave much more thought to life’s bigger picture. It sounds cliche to make every day count, but he’s signed on strongly with the concept. 

“Yeah, really, it was more thinking that you could lose all that (family),” Bohn said. “You want to make sure that you can make a massive impact before you go. So that was the refocus to my family. I want to make sure that I make a big impact on my children, and my wife, before my time is up.”

So his one-year anniversary at the Honda may not have been a huge success inside the ropes (70-73) but it gave him a nice opportunity to look around and absorb how far he has come in a year. Bohn said he is on a small dosage of cholesterol medicine and takes a blood thinner (and likely will for life). Though his golf hasn’t been anything great – 10 starts this season, six made cuts, his best finish a tie for 35th in Mexico – he’s doing what he loves to do. And though he is starting to feel the inevitable aches of age – he will be 44 in April – Bohn says overall, he feels terrific.

“I feel very energetic,” he said. “I feel a lot more alive about everything.”

Before he headed to the airport on Friday afternoon, Bohn had one last thing that he wanted to do. In the cramped locker room at PGA National there are four posh brown leather chairs arranged into a circle. One year earlier, this was where he sat post-round on Friday, disoriented, his chest hurting, as EMTs checked on him. They would hook him to a portable EKG monitor and convinced him, fortunately, that he needed to get to the hospital immediately. Bohn, of course, a former smoker but trim and fit at 42, thought at the time that these folks around him had no idea what they were talking about.

They were helping to save his life.

“That chair … I haven’t sat there,” Bohn said, pausing. “I think I’m going to go in, have a little lunch, and then maybe get a cold beer and go sit in that chair. 

“And just soak it up that I can sit there another year.”

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