Robert Karlsson finally returned to golf today – nearly four months after he last played a tournament.
Last season’s European number one made his comeback for Continental Europe against Britain and Ireland at the Vivendi Trophy in Paris.
Karlsson has been suffering from a blister behind his left retina, thought to be stress-related, and despite all the assurances his doctor gave him about recovery he admits he was concerned.
“It took such a long time and I really didn’t see an improvement with my vision – it was quite worrying,” said the 40-year-old, who partnered fellow Swede Henrik Stenson in the opening fourballs at St-Nom la Breteche against English pair Chris Wood and Anthony Wall.
“I was trusting the doctor and he said my career was not in jeopardy, but at the same time you never know.
“It was pretty much like if you dive in a pool and stick up your head straight after – everything was a little blurry and straight lines go crooked.
“And if one eye is out of sync you lose depth of vision.”
Between the end of May and the start of this month Karlsson played a mere 36 holes of golf and went to the practice ground only twice.
“The rest of the time I spent with family and friends and enjoyed a life that I didn’t know I have,” he said.
“When the doctor said it was good I got so happy. The last two weeks I’ve practised quite a bit, but I guess Henrik could be a bit worried.”
The effort he put into the end of last season – he won twice and then held off Padraig Harrington to win the Order of Merit – may have been a contributory factor.
All being well in France the next four days Karlsson will defend the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next week and his other planned trips include the defence of the World Cup in China – “if Henrik still wants me!”
He said: “I’ll see the doctor again in November and the most important thing is to see that it doesn’t start coming back. If I play four events and it starts then I have to re-assess how I play.
“But right now I’m really happy to be here and we’ll see how it goes.”
Eight players who could have played are not present, though, and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie yesterday singled out Ian Poulter for criticism.
Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer are injured and Harrington and Luke Donald are at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, but Poulter joined Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia in turning down their places on teams led by Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn.
“I just feel that when you are selected for your country more of an effort might well have been made,” said Montgomerie, who is in attendance to watch potential members of his side at Celtic Manor next October.
“Ian Poulter, not having qualified for the Tour Championship and having been picked for the last Ryder Cup team (Westwood, Rose and Garcia all qualified), I felt that a little more effort might have been made to come here.”
Montgomerie and Poulter had words at the 2005 Seve Trophy. Montgomerie was Britain and Ireland captain then and thought the Englishman should have been watching rather than practising.
Last year, of course, Poulter stayed away from the final counting event for the Ryder Cup when he still could have qualified.
While others voiced their opinions about that, captain Nick Faldo still gave him a wild card – and he went on to be top scorer at Valhalla with four points out of five.