HONOLULU — After a forced three-month hiatus, Matt Every is back on the PGA Tour, and boy did he have a lot to say.
Almost all of it was unprintable.
“Am I glad to be playing golf again? I am. I missed being out here. It’s what I do,” Every said at Waialae Country Club, where he’ll begin the second round of the Sony Open on Friday at 7:20 a.m. HST after shooting an opening-round three-over 73 on Thursday afternoon.
Given the blustery conditions—with wind gusts nearing 40 mph—and that Thursday’s round was his first since he finished T-28 at the Houston Open in mid-October, Every’s performance was not at all disappointing. It was a tad uneven, with seven bogeys offsetting four birdies, but the guy is a bit rusty. He didn’t pick up a club for two months.
“I think the down time wasn’t all bad,” said the 38-year-old veteran from Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Every didn’t feel like practicing, he admitted, because he wasn’t allowed to play. He was suspended for 12 weeks by the PGA Tour in October for testing positive for a banned substance, in this case cannabis, for which he has a legal prescription in Florida. Every takes medical marijuana for mental-health purposes. In a statement he released after the tour announced the suspension, Every said that his doctor determined he is not a candidate for Z-class drugs like Zoloft or Xanax. He added that such drugs can be highly addictive, and that “cannabis is by far the safest and most effective treatment.”
Twice a winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Every had a lot more to say on the subject but didn’t want to risk making any statements on the record about his suspension except that the tour’s drug policy is “lazy and tired” because of its strict adherence to the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines. Marijuana is on WADA’s banned list.
Eleven states allow recreational marijuana and 33 states permit medical use.
Every was the second player suspended last year for medical-marijuana use. Robert Garrigus was the other, taking it for chronic back pain.
On Sunday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said of the tour’s drug policy, “We’re very comfortable with the policy, and as it relates to changes that might come down the road as it relates to how marijuana is treated, we’re going to continue to follow WADA and … we don’t plan to make any exceptions off of our existing policy.”
Ranked 289th in the world, Every says he is getting by as best he can without running afoul of the tour’s policy again. As for his golf game, once he decided to start hitting balls again to get ready for his return, he didn’t feel like he’d lost much.
On Thursday he hit eight of 14 fairways and nine greens in regulation, not terrible given the conditions, which were a bit more severe for the afternoon wave of players. He took 28 putts, ranking 38th in the field.
This week he’s not inclined to press, instead taking it slowly in his return. He walked off the course relatively pleased.
“I’m not at all unhappy with my round,” he said. “I think I held it together pretty well. I guess I could have worked a bit harder when I was away, but a part of me is like, What’s the point? I couldn’t play anyway. So at least I’m fresh. I’m just ready to move on.”
UPDATE, Friday, 7 p.m. Eastern—On the ninth hole at Waialae, his final hole of his second round at the Sony Open, Matt Every withdrew from the tournament due to a back injury, according to PGA Tour communications.