Todd Demsey, a former college team-mate of Phil Mickelson, is back as a member of the circuit for the first time since 1997 and five years after a second operation to remove a benign brain tumour.
Left alone, the tumour could have been fatal and he was told there was still a 5% chance of dying during the operation or of him coming out of it paralysed.
“Any time you open the skull, it’s risky,” said Demsey. “I was scared, but I was more concerned for my family. I was worried when I hit balls the first time afterwards — it hurt my head.”
He was back playing on the Nationwide Tour later the same year, but it was not until a closing 64 at last month’s qualifying school that he earned the chance to play the main circuit again.
Demsey finished eighth while Ferrie was 14th — arguably his best, and certainly his most important, performance of a year that saw him crash to a lowly 167th on the European Order of Merit. That was shocking for a player good enough to have finished 11th in 2005 and to have shared the lead with Mickelson with a round to go in the 2006 US Open.
Scot Martin Laird and Londoner Brian Davis also play this week’s event, as does Swede Daniel Chopra, winner of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship and second on the European Ryder Cup table.