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Grateful Maverick McNealy returns to PGA Tour from injury

Maverick McNealy missed the cut by three shots over the weekend in Mexico, but it didn’t bother the Las Vegas golfer like it normally would. He was just happy to be back on the PGA Tour after five months away.

McNealy’s issues began in February at his favorite event, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, when an awkward swing while waiting on the seventh tee resulted in a torn ligament that connects the sternum to the collar bone. After taking six weeks off, McNealy attempted to play again in the spring, but things were not right. He finally shut things down in June and took five months to completely heal.

His time off was much more than rehab. The 28-year-old got engaged and secured his pilot’s license, something that has become his passion away from the course. It also gave him time to appreciate his life.

“I think being away from the tour has made me realize all the things I loved and missed about it,” he said. “It’s really easy to get caught up in the FedEx Cup rankings and try to make the playoffs, trying to hit a certain world ranking, working on your game, stressing about all these different things.

“At least for me, I kind of lost sight of the fact that it’s just really, really cool to be on the PGA Tour and be a PGA Tour player. This is the greatest job on the planet.”

McNealy said it wasn’t just the golf that he missed,

“I love seeing different parts of the world, the country, eating different foods, meeting different people, hanging out with 50 of the best golfers on the planet and playing practice rounds and $5 birdie games with those guys,” he said. “I love that we get to walk 50 miles. This is what people do for recreation, and we get to do it for a job.”

It’s a job McNealy is good at. Before the injury, he was on an early-season roll with three top-10 finishes in six starts, and nothing worse than a 31st. He had climbed to 57th in the world rankings, a personal best, and seemed poised to get that elusive first win on the PGA Tour.

And now he begins to find the form again that got him to that spot.

“It’s so cliche, you don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it,” he said. “You always think about it. Your years on the PGA Tour are limited, and how do I want to spend them? I’m just going to love being here.”

Chip shots

— Las Vegas Golf Club will host the Turkey Grand Prix on Nov. 19 with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Cost is $158 for a two-player team, which includes lunch and on-course contests.

— Durango Hills Golf Club will hold its first Naughty & Nice tournament Dec. 1. The four-player scramble costs $70 per player, features an 8 a.m. shotgun start, lunch and on-course games, including an ugly sweater contest.

— James Baylis and Rick Sepp won the Legacy Men’s Golf Association member-guest tournament in late October. Brent Pendleton and Brian Edwards were second.

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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