By Kim Constantinesco
If you’re sandwiched between Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia after two full days of PGA play, you’re likely sleeping a little easier at night.
That’s where 26-year-old Bud Cauley found himself after firing an 11-under to grab a share of second place at the 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson.
The big spotlight certainly wasn’t on Cauley coming into this tournament. He skipped the 2015 season to recover from shoulder surgery, and is playing this year on an automatic medical extension out of the Web.com Tour. In his six tournaments, he missed the cut four times.
Jordan? Of course. Sergio? Sure. Bud? Who?
“It’s exciting,” Cauley said after his round on Friday. “It’s just nice to see some good scores for the work I put in at home to pay off. I feel like I’m playing well and if I can keep driving the ball, I think I’ll get a chance this weekend.”
How to deal with shoulder injuries are one of golf’s biggest conundrums. Do you play through the pain, risking further damage and poor play, or do you take time off to recover one of the sport’s most important body parts?
Cauley’s support team urged him to put the clubs down for an extended period after repairing his torn labrum. It wasn’t easy to go seven months without hitting a ball, especially for someone who learned how to golf at six years old.
“It was absolutely miserable,” he said. “For the first three-and-a-half months, I went to physical therapy twice a day. It’s the most mindless thing. You go in there and [they] tell you to do this or that. I was bored. I watched a lot of TV and just kind of hung out and drove everybody crazy. It’s much better for me and everybody else that I’m back out here now.”
The break, although mentally challenging, did its trick. Cauley believes that in the long run, he did it the “right way.”
“Everyone that I was with as far as my physical therapy guys and doctors stressed not to rush back. I still do my PT everyday to make sure that it’s never a problem again, but I worked really hard to get back, so it’s nice to come out and play well.”
There’s still a lot of golf to be played this weekend for the home schooled Florida native. But sitting in fourth place with 20 years worth of golf in his blood, Cauley is poised to make a run and cement his comeback story.