Kris Tamulis’ return to the LPGA Tour didn’t go quite as smoothly as she would’ve liked as she tied for 40th in the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio.
Tamulis hadn’t been playing after she tore tendons in both elbows, and also had to carry her own bag when her caddie wasn’t cleared from coronavirus testing. That included a second round in a pouring rain Saturday.
“My caddie didn’t take his COVID test in time,” Tamulis said Monday. ‘There was nobody else that could’ve done it. That was definitely a first for me, and then not having played since Dallas (last October).”
Tamulis hadn’t played any golf in months, but it wasn’t all due to the halt of the tour — and much of the sports world — from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. She’d torn the tendon completely off the bone in both of her elbows.
Tamulis, 39, said it was due to wear and tear.
“I’m an aging repetitive athlete,” she said, referring to the thousands of times her body has swung a golf club in her life.
Her husband, Jeremy Maddox, is a physical therapist, so that was a help in figuring out ways to address the injuries. But nothing seemed to work.
“You don’t realize how much you use your arms until something hurts,” said Tamulis, who had pain doing such simple things as pulling off a pillowcase. “I really struggled with it most of the winter.”
Tamulis has been using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments and blood flow restrictive training, which involves a machine with a cuff that goes over whatever arm she is working on. She posted a video on her Instagram of curling a can of corn, saying “Who knew a can of corn could be so heavy!!!”
So understandably, Tamulis didn’t arrive in Toledo last week feeling too confident about her game.
“I came in with very low expectations,” she said. “It’s not usually the way I prepare. But it’s not like I forgot how to play golf.”
During the time off during the pandemic, Tamulis, who lives in the Tampa area, also remembered something else she loves to do — fish. Her Instagram feed is filled with photos of Tamulis and her husband on their boat and with their catches.
“I grew up fishing with my dad,” she said. “My husband loves to fish. That’s what we like to do together. Living where we do in Florida, it’s just such a big part of our lives. I don’t think there’s any place better than being on a boat.”
And that includes golf. Tamulis, who made her tour debut out of Florida State in 2005, admitted that while there are elements of playing professional golf she enjoys, there are parts she didn’t miss.
“I just miss my friends,” Tamulis said. “I don’t miss the grind of trying to make a cut or being disappointed in a shot or feeling like you’ve never done enough.”
Yet Tamulis has an LPGA Tour victory and career earnings of more than $1.8 million.
“That’s been my job, my whole career,” she said. “I didn’t necessarily think I was going to make it a career.”
Tamulis was tied for 14th after the first round last Friday, but when the rain moved in, she was trying to balance carrying her bag, her umbrella, and keeping her clubs dry, already without the second set of eyes and advice caddie Louis Paolini brings.
“I was completely unprepared,” said Tamulis, who followed a 1-under 71 with a 7-over 79.
When she was warming up on the range Sunday, the rain was coming down again.
“I don’t like playing in the rain,” she said. “That’s why I don’t play in the Scottish and the British (Opens). I want to enjoy the golf instead of beating myself up.”
The rain cleared for the final six holes, and Tamulis finished off another 71 to win $4,293. She’ll play in the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio, this week. Now she’s more used to the coronavirus protocols, which she said pretty much have mirrored the PGA Tour’s, including an at-home test before leaving for a tournament site, daily temperature checks, and another test on site. The good news is that Paolini has returned.
“We were able to play two weeks in a row and test our COVID protocols, which were fairly extensive,” she said.