SOUTHPORT, England – Frustration is part of any golfer’s life.
After all, the losses far outnumber the victories in golf, even for the best players.
For Peter Uihlein, a 27-year-old American on the European Tour, frustration has been linked more closely to his health than his tournament results.
After turning pro in 2012, Uihlein won the 2013 Madeira Islands Open. He soon had issues with a bulging disk, and then in May 2016 underwent surgery for a rupture of the triangular fibrocartilage complex in his left wrist.
Uihlein tried to come back late in the year – too soon, as it turned out – and posted poor results. He resumed play in Australia.
As part of the comeback, Uihlein worked with his swing coach to change his ball flight from right-to-left to a left-to-right arc. He wants to control his ball flight better, take one side of the hole out of play and hit more fairways.
It seems to have worked.
“This is the first year I've been fully healthy since my rookie year,” said Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, on the weekend before the British Open. “So, there's no doubt that it's been a long time. I've had a couple fluky injuries, really, with the wrist and the back. It's the first time since my rookie year I've been feeling good. I just played seven out of eight weeks, and [the British Open] will be eight out of nine and I feel good.”
Uihlein has compiled a solid season, with five top-10 finishes worldwide, including a runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in the HNA French Open three weeks ago. For the first time as a professional, Uihlein has qualified for the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year. He embraces his journey on the Challenge and European tours.
“I don't really regret anything,” Uihlein said. “I've had five years now, five years of traveling, seeing the world. Been places that people won't really see in their lifetime. So, I've done a lot of things and been very fortunate.”
Uihlein hopes to improve a major-championship record that shows only one made cut (T-48 as an amateur in 2011 British Open) among six starts. He is not part of many discussions about the potential winner this week at Royal Birkdale (tee times: http://bit.ly/2tnMu0F). Uihlein stands No. 88 in the Official World Golf Ranking and carries odds of 150-1 to win the Claret Jug. But he is looking at re-establishing his position in professional golf and seek a PGA Tour card.
“For the first time this year, I'm going to play those Web.com playoffs,” Uihlein said. “I have enough FedEx Cup points to be eligible for them, I've been told, so I'm going to play those four and try and get my card and see what happens.”
As much as he has enjoyed the journey, Uihlein is ready to play on the PGA Tour and compete with his contemporaries from his college days at Oklahoma State.
“Life's a journey. Everybody would love to come out of college and just beat the world right away like [Jordan] Spieth or Rick[ie Fowler] did or any of those guys,” Uihlein said. “But that's just not how it is. For every Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler, there's a lot of guys – I could name off a hundred guys – who are good college players who turn pro and never make it. So, at the end of the day, I'm fortunate enough to be where I am, playing the European Tour. I'm fortunate enough to play on the PGA Tour when I can, and, like I said, life's a journey, isn't it?”
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @AlexMiceli