Tom Wood shot a 5-over 76 on Monday. That would often be disconcerting to a defending champion of a golf tournament, but it wasnt to Wood.
The man with five plates and 26 screws in his body – actually, fewer than he used to have – has been through battles far greater than what Orchard Ridge Country Club provided.
Hes been through things more painful than the double bogey he had in the first round of the Senior City Championship, which prompted him to remark, only, Aw, come on. No throwing of clubs from a man who 13 years ago was on deaths door, after he and wife Lisa were hit head-on by a drunken driver with a blood-alcohol level of .314.
Wood took the worst of the accident, suffering injuries to his hip, wrist, spleen and just about everything else. He was in intensive care for a week, the hospital for a month and a wheelchair for another month and a half.
One of my wifes first questions to the doctors was: Will he be able to play golf again? said Wood, 53, who is eight strokes back of the leader, John Wray, heading into todays final round.
Though Wood had long been an avid golfer – he had won the club championship at Pine Valley – Lisa Woods question was more about the family resuming its favorite pastime than it was about pride. Lisa knew Tom would want to show his kids he was a survivor. And once he was able to speak for himself, Tom said, I want to get out on the golf course so my kids know Im OK.
Less than five months after his accident, Wood played golf again. After making his first par, on the ninth hole, he sat in the cart and cried. Not long after that, at a golf course, he ran into the Rev. Mark Gurtner, a priest who told Wood he had given him last rites in the ICU.
I stopped dead in my tracks, Wood said. He said, Well, I do that all the time. I said, Well, I dont get them all the time.
And its changed Woods philosophy on the course, though hes still successful, enduring through pain and not being able to extend his left arm above his head.
I have won a few things myself after surviving this near tragedy, and again, am proud of these accomplishments on the course, but Im even more proud of the person I have become off the golf course, Wood said. Through tragedy you become a big picture person, one who enjoys the journey and doesnt get hung up on the score.
Sam Till Jr. shot a 70 Monday; he started with a 4-under 31 on the back nine and sank to second place among the 75 players.
I was just a little jumpy and dont know why, Till said. I will get my thoughts together. Im a better player when Im calmer and I wasnt calm today. Ill try to get that worked out and come back and see what I can do.
David Dankert had a hole-in-one on the 168-yard sixth hole and shot a 78.