Date: July 17, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes, St Andrews

Brave Rummy fights for big picture

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Brett Rumford’s score might not have suggested conquest, but the brave truth behind it certainly does.

The West Australian veteran shot three birdies against just two bogeys – including only one in a savage back-nine test in cold and blustery conditions – to keep his Open dream alive with an opening 71.

But even should the five-time European Tour winner hold aloft the Claret Jug come Sunday, he’s got a far bigger priority on his mind – his health.

Rumford, while rugging up and heading for a hot bath of salts and dinner with his concerned family after his round, admitted he’d returned too soon from serious surgery this year and was far from fit for his fifth tilt at the Open.

The 37-year-old had more than 30cm of bowel removed in emergency surgery after having a blockage in his small intestine caused by eating apples during a tournament in South Africa in March

After spending 17 days in hospital, Rumford was eager to return to golf, but made that call too early when he returned for the BMW PGA Championship in May and subsequent Irish Open and fell flat again.

"It was a painful experience, a pretty scary one, as well, being on the other side of the world … it got pretty ugly, pretty quick,” he said.

"I came back way too early for the BMW and the Irish because of it and I'm not really looking to too many tournaments after this for the rest of the season.

"I’m just quite fatigued still. I lost 11 kilos so I'm not expecting to be back to fully fit at the moment.

"That was only three and a half months ago since I had the stitches out (and) it's just a slow process back.

“But my game's there and that's the frustrating thing.

"I feel as though I'm playing good golf and good enough to compete, but it's just one of those things.

"The energy levels are pretty bad and, day in, day out, if I start to push it too much or tax myself, I can feel myself going backwards.

"It basically just drains it.”

Rumford faced the worst of the conditions and also admitted he hadn’t braced for an extremely chilly Scottish evening.

“It was a heavy, cold wind and I shivered probably the last six or seven holes coming home.

"I didn't have any of the warmer gear but it’s nice to get in and obviously I'll be nice and warm tomorrow with no complaints.”

Rumford, who qualified at last year’s Emirates Australian Open, said he had no lofty goals because of his condition.

"It's so easy to get up on a high right now (after that start) and discount everything that's been going on for the past couple of months.

"But I’m just gonna have some fun this week with no expectations and just take it fun.

"I'm looking to play well because I'm playing well.

"I'm really focused at the moment on maintaining those energy levels so I can be able to compete at these levels."

Rumford bogeyed the first, but knuckled down with birdies on the third, fifth and sixth holes hours after the first-round leaders had enjoyed far easier conditions.

“Gauging from the rounds this morning, I just thought the pins were highly accessible and it was a very scoreable day.

"But just when we were starting to warm up, maybe an hour before, I really noticed the winds starting to pick up.

"It was just really tough.

"It was relatively easy going out but it's always the way, turning around and coming back from 12 onwards was really tough.

"So it was nice just to hole a couple of nice putts.

"I played nicely coming back. I made a couple of nice and up and downs.”