Golf’s weirdest injuries


Louis Oosthuizen is the latest player to suffer a freak-injury this week that has forced him to pull out of the Joburg Open 

Oosthuizen returned to South Africa to compete in the Joburg Open this week, but a freak accident in the airport has stopped him from competing. 

“The body feels great but I had a different incident this week with jamming my fingers in trolleys at the airport,” Oosthuizen said at his Wednesday press conference.

“This morning is even worse than it was yesterday, so I tried to grip a golf club but there’s no way I can go to my grip position.”

But what about other weird injuries that have stopped professional golfers from competing? With the exception of Henrik Stenson’s rib injury that may or may not have been caused by participating in an HSBC photoshoot for the WGC HSBC Champions a month ago, Padraig Harrington was the most recent player to fall foul of a freak injury that stopped him from playing. 

Padraig Harrington being hit by an amateur

Padraig Harrington

The three-time major champion was taking part in a Pro-Am for the FedEx St Jude’s Classic earlier this year when an amateur hit him on the shoulder with his club, and for a moment he wondered if he’d ever be able to play professional golf again.

He took to twitter to explain the event, stating that he was forced to withdraw. “I was hit on the elbow with a practice swing by an amateur I was coaching at an outing.”

“Thankfully nothing was broken, just 6 stitches. I thought it was the end of me playing competitive golf. I’ll only be out for 12 days or so to let stitches heal.”

“There’s no truth in the rumour that it was the amateur’s best strike of the day,” he wrote. “Ironic that a potential injury caused coaching an am could of resulted in me becoming a full time coach.”

Dustin Johnson falling down the stairs at the Masters

Dustin Johnson

Harrington’s bizarre injury comes just a couple of months after World No.1 Dustin Johnson slipped down the stairs of his Augusta rental home, which prompted him to withdraw from the Masters. 

DJ’s injury couldn’t have been more ill-timed. He had just won three tournaments in a row and was the clear favourite for the first major of the year, but while he stated he felt it would only hamper his play for a couple of days, he didn’t return to action for a month. 

Jamie Donaldson & Greg Norman’s chainsaws

Before Dustin Johnson, Jamie Donaldson was the last to suffer a freak injury – as he had an unfortunate encounter with a chainsaw in January of last year.  Donaldson was gardening when he very nearly sliced off the little finger on his left hand, which left him with several stitches and three weeks off competitive golf.

He took to twitter to post a gruesome photo of the injury, writing “So folks in my time off decided to have a fight with a chainsaw and lost! Oops!! C u in Dubai.”

You would have thought professional golfers might be a little more careful around dangerous machinery in the garden, but Donaldson was just following in the foot-steps of Greg Norman, who had also nearly lost his left hand with a chainsaw a year and a half before. 

Norman admitted he had seen the injury coming, saying “I had a premonition, to tell you the truth, as I was getting my chainsaw ready that something bad was going to happen,”

“I was about four branches from being done, and there was one branch about chest high and I cut through and took my finger off the trigger. The branch was just about ready, was falling straight down, and I went to grab it with my left hand, but it was a little heavier than I anticipated.”

“The weight took my arm, right above where you wear your watch on your left wrist, and took it right into the chains as it was spooling down. I was very lucky in a lot of ways. If the chainsaw was going at full speed my hand would have been cut off and it missed my ulna nerve and muscles, so I was extremely, extremely lucky in that regard, by fractions of millimetres.”

He needed to wear a large protective cast and wasn’t able to play golf for two months, which was astonishing given the severity of the injury.

Sam Torrance & Graeme McDowell’s midnight injuries

Two European Tour verterans have both been sidelined due to a freak incident that occurred in the middle of the night in their careers. Graeme McDowell caught his hand in a door while sleep walking in 2012, and Sam Torrance tackled a Yucca plant in the middle of the night that he thought was an introducer.

Torrance broke his toe and then had to miss his singles match during the 1993 Ryder Cup at the Belfry. “For months afterwards I was unmercifully ribbed by my colleagues,” he said.  “Every time I hit into the trees, someone would say, ‘Careful Sammy, it’s a jungle out there!”

Brandt Snedeker & Jasper Parnevick’s Segway accidents

Less than a year apart both Brandt Snedeker (Nov, 2013) and Jasper Parnevick (Jul, 2014) had accidents on Segways that left them unable to compete. While Snedeker strained his ACL, Parnevick broke a rib (two years after he nearly lost a finger on his right hand after a boating accident) and was sidelined for a month. 

John Daly and the spectator

John Dlay

John Daly was trying to get out of the way rather than tackle anyone when he ended up injured at the Honda Classic in 2007. He ended up filing a lawsuit against the PGA Tour because he fractured two ribs and separated his right shoulder when a female spectator jumped in front of him to take his picture as he was teeing off at the 12th hole at PGA National. He says he tried to stop his swing and hit behind the ball, and then suffered the injuries that negatively impacted his career. 

Also up for nomination in golf’s weirdest injuries are…

Thomas’ Levet breaking a shin after jumping in to a lake following his French Open win in 2011, Ernie Els rupturing his ACL while tubing in 2005, Olazabal punching a wall and breaking his hand in 1999 after shooting a 1st round 75 at the US Open, and Oliver Wilson fracturing his wrist while slipping out of the way in a snowball fight in 2012.

In addition to weird, there’s been a few famous faces to have suffered injuries while playing other sports. Paul Casey dislocated his shoulder while snowboarding in 2012, Miguel Angel Jiminez broke a leg while skiing (also in 2012), and Rory McIlroy ruptured his left ankle ligament while playing football in 2015 – causing him to miss his chance to defend his title when the Open was played in St. Andrews. 

Lee Trevino and Bobby Nichols – Hit by lightning

But of all the strangest injuries, we’ve got to go with being struck by lightning. Lee Trevino was hit by lightning by the 13th green during the Western Open at Butler National Club near Chicago, along with fellow major champion Bobby Nichols – who was hit by a seperate bolt. 

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