In these winter months, Tacoma’s Michael Putnam has spent more time answering questions than hitting golf balls.
His fractured left wrist (lunate bone), which he had in a cast for nearly two months starting in late August, has healed much slower than first anticipated. The Life Christian graduate has not resumed any golf-related activity.
And it appears at this juncture that Putnam will not be ready to go at the start of the 2012 PGA Tour season.
“(Doctors) did not give me best-case scenario – just the normal-case,” Putnam said. “And I have been slower in the bone-healing.”
So, how much longer? Putnam is not sure. He said the last doctors’ exam showed 40 percent improvement in the wrist’s healing. Another magnetic imaging resonance test (MRI) is scheduled next week in Seattle.
Even when he is given clearance to hit golf balls, Putnam said it would take him a full two months before he would be ready to tackle tournament golf – with the first month dedicated to rehabilitating the wrist, and the final month rounding back into form.
At least he gets a break (no pun intended) on the parameters of his exemption to play the PGA Tour. Because he has shown proof to be out of golf four months or longer, the tour granted him a major medical exemption.
That clock is flexible: It starts when the golfer is ready, and not confined to the following season.
In Putnam’s case, to retain full PGA Tour playing privileges, he has to make a total of $250,00 in four tournaments. To earn partial status (top 125 to 150 on money list), he would have to earn a total of $13,000 in four events.
Despite missing the final two months of last season, Putnam finished 153rd on the money list at $398,400.
And another positive is that when Putnam decides he is ready to return, he can play up to four Nationwide Tour events to test where he is physically and golf form-wise.
One way or another, Putnam plans on playing golf in 2012. When? It could be the end of January, sometime in February or could carry into a March start date.
“I am hopeful I wuld not have to takle too much longer than the first month off,” Putnam said. “But I am going to play when I am healthy, no matter when it is – if it is in January in Los Angeles, or Pebble Beach in February or Puerto Rico in March.”