These are exciting and painful times for Arron Oberholser. Last week, he married Angie Rizzo, a former LPGA player. On Tuesday, he underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from his left hand. Oberholser, 32, had a similar operation on his right hand in 2001.
"Everything went well," says Oberholser. "From what the doctors said, the bone was still connected but sitting there like a loose tooth. That was a blessing in disguise." Oberholser originally hurt his left hand in April hitting a shot out of the rough at the Byron Nelson Classic. He continued to play in pain through the BMW Championship in September, but was forced to withdraw during the first round when his club caught the lip of a bunker during his follow-through. At the time, he was 29th in the FedEx Cup points standings and needing to stay within the top 30 to play in the Tour Championship. However, his hand hurt too much to finish the tournament and he dropped to 34th.
After a five-week break, he returned to competition at the Fry's Electronics Open two weeks ago (T-18 after rounds of 67-68-68-73). But the pain worsened, and tests revealed a chip in his hamate bone. "With this bone chip, only certain swings hurt," he said. "Especially hitting out of the rough."
Oberholser got off to a slow start in 2007. He withdrew from the Mercedes-Benz Championship after the first round because of back pain. Then he missed more than a month of tournaments, including the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where he won in 2006. Despite that, he turned in another strong year. His five top-10 finishes were highlighted by a tie for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship and a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship. He's 44th on the money list with nearly $1.8 million, the second-best showing of his career. His left hand will remain in a soft cast until Nov. 9, and he hopes to start hitting balls soon afterward.
"I think I'll be swinging full-speed by the first week of December," says Oberholser. "I hope to play a couple days in Tiger's pro-am (Target World Challenge, Dec. 13-16) and will work hard through the holidays to get ready for Hawaii." Other than a weekend getaway at a Four Seasons, Oberholser and his wife have yet to take a honeymoon.
"I can't do anything right now," he said. "But she's out playing golf today." --Mark Soltau