'I've Never Been So Happy To Shoot 77' - Former Ryder Cup Player On Emotional Return

Jeff Overton had been out of action since 2017 following the development of an epidural abscess

Jeff Overton hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the 2017 Bahamas Great Abaco Classic
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The field for this week’s 3M Open may have been unremarkable compared to previous years, but the inclusion of Jeff Overton on a sponsor’s exemption was significant - it marked the American's first PGA Tour appearance in over five years.

In 2017, Overton developed an epidural abscess following an injection for a herniated disc in his back, and it left him facing both an uncertain future and a long road to recovery. After years of rehab, Overton finally made his return to the Tour on Thursday when he shot a six-over 77 in the first round at TPC Twin Cities. That may have been a modest score, but it included a birdie on his second hole to offer a reminder of the talented player lost to the game for over half a decade.

As for his own assessment of his comeback round, Overton said:  “I went from enjoying the time of my life before injury to fighting for my life with the injury… and I’ve never been so happy to shoot 77 before today.” 

The seriousness of Overton's plight was highlighted in an interview he gave to PGATour.com (opens in new tab)before the tournament. Overton said: “It was an eye-opening experience going from living the dream to fighting for your life. But here I am, five-and-a-half-years later, after doing a whole lot of rehab and seeing a lot of great people. You never give up.”

Until his health troubles, which actually started the previous year when he injured a disc in his back in the 2016 RBC Canadian Open, Overton had enjoyed a solid career, including playing in the 2010 Ryder Cup and achieving 32 top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour. However, for Overton, it was far from certain that he would ever return to that level of golf. He said: “You’re struggling for your life, and you’re just wanting to get through to where you’re somewhat OK. Then after a year or two goes by, you’re just like: ‘I may never get to do my dream again.’ That was hard. You’re seeing different doctors, like: ‘Am I going to make a full recovery?’”

Finally, after linking up with professor of spine biomechanics Dr Stuart McGill and trainer Shane Rye, Overton started seeing results, culminating in his emotional - and very long-awaited - return to the PGA Tour this week.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.