Retief Goosen has struggled with a back injury for the last year. On Day 1 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, however, he fought through the pain to open with 3-under 67.
Asked to rate how his back feels, Goosen said, "About 5 out of 10."
Goosen has a degenerating L3‑L4 disc, with the bone growth happening awkwardly. He's also struggling with muscles firing around the disc. It makes life on Tour difficult.
"So at the moment it is a struggle to sleep properly and to get going in the mornings, to warm up," he said. "And yeah, I'm losing a lot of distance out there on the golf course. I can't quite go at it as hard as I would like to."
Goosen has averaged 285.5 yards off the tee this year - a loss of seven yards per drive compared to his 2009 average. He is limited in how many balls he can hit before pain sets in.
"Warming up in the mornings is okay," he said. "Yeah, it takes a while, but generally after a round maybe 30 balls and then I'm done. Then I'm struggling to stand up straight and hit it properly."
The South African is doing everything he can to avoid surgery, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections earlier this year, cortisone shots and other therapies. What has worked for the likes of Vijay Singh and Fred Couples is not the elixir for Goosen.
While the search for a non-surgical alternative continues, Goosen is trying to play through the pain.
"I am in discussions with a number of doctors to see what sort of options there are with the back," he said, "but at the moment we've just got to keep grinding away and play well."
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