Date: February 06, 2020
Author: Rod Morri @ 13th Beach

The return: Smith’s new perspective on golf


“It’s called mummy thumb,” Sarah Jane Smith explains about the Band Aid on her left thumb ahead of her opening round at the ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach.

It’s otherwise known as de Quervain's tenosynovitis, and Smith had her hand wrapped up to protect her by the time she teed off on Thursday.

“Brittany Lincicome (the LPGA Tour professional) has it, too,” she goes on. “You get it from when they’re babies and you spend a lot of time holding them and your thumb is sort of under a bit of pressure.

“I’ve been working on it with a great guy in Orlando and he got me pain free before I came back to play my first tournament two weeks ago.”

Such are the challenges of returning to professional golf after having a child.

This week is Smith’s second start back since leaving the LPGA Tour in April last year to give birth to her first child.

She and husband and caddie Duane welcomed Theo into the world in July and after six months away she returned to the game two weeks ago at the Gainbridge LPGA.

While she missed the cut, she said she was pleased with aspects of her game, particularly her work around the greens on day one.

“If I didn’t have my short game I would have shot 90 that first day,” she said. “And I’m not joking.

“The ball striking was just horrendous so to finish only four-over was actually pretty pleasing. I was better on day two but missed the cut by one which was disappointing but not too bad.”

She said the big difference was having Theo to go home to which put the events of the golf course in proper perspective.

“There’s just no time to dwell on it,” she said. “I really wanted to play the weekend, of course, but going to pick him up from day care and then getting on with feeding and bedtime just means there’s no time to think about golf.

“Which is actually really good. It’s a change in perspective but in a good way.”

She said she was excited to be back playing though there were adjustments to be made.

“I changed all my shafts because I played until I was six months pregnant,” she said, “so we’ve been mucking around trying to get back to the right set-up because I’m not quite back to full swing speed yet.

“I think we’ve got the driver sorted out and I’ve been feeling good about the way I’ve been hitting it with the irons so it’s starting to come together.”

She said she had been nervous about coming back after such a long lay-off after a bad experience in her early years as a professional.

“It was about my fourth season and I’d had a lot of other players tell me I should take a long break at some point, so I decided to take a month off and it was a disaster!” she said.

“I could barely play when I came back, it was terrible. I couldn’t even bring myself to keep score. That made me a bit nervous when I came back this time, but it wasn’t nearly as bad, so I that was a relief.”

Smith opened with a 77 on the Beach course to be five-over par.