Smotherman back swinging at SMU

Former Del Oro golf standout was sidelined for three months
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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Austin Smotherman had a tough decision to make last Fall that he hopes will pay dividends this spring.

The former Del Oro High golf standout, now a freshman at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, waived a little but not much when doctors told him in early last October he needed surgery on his left elbow.

“It was a tough decision at first but in the long run I’m hoping that it will pay off,” said Smotherman who had to put his clubs away for three months in rehabbing from the surgery on the ulnar nerve in his left elbow.

The nerve, more commonly known as the “Funny Bone”, had de-attached from the elbow and at the end of last summer had Smotherman fighting pain to play through 18 holes.

He began the Fall season at SMU and played in the team’s first two tournaments averaging a score of 74.17 with a low round of 68. But at the Payne Stewart Match Play tournament held at the prestigious Pinehurst No. 2 course in North Carolina, the injury finally pushed Smotherman to the sidelines.

“I basically played my round with no feeling on my left side for the last eleven holes,” said Smotherman who was the CIF state individual champion last year. “I knew it was time.”

After the successful surgery and ensuing rehabilitation, Smotherman is back playing getting ready for the Mustangs’ 2013 spring season.

“I’m pain free again playing golf and that’s saying something,” said the 2012 Del Oro graduate. “We’re taking it one day at a time.”

Smotherman is one of four talented freshman that SMU coach Josh Gregory brought in to bolster the Mustangs line-up. Besides Smotherman, the others are fellow Californians Bryson Dechambeau from Clovis East and Ryan Burgess from Torrey Pines. Another top prospect is Maxime Blanden from France.

SMU will restart its season with a tournament next month in Puerto Rico before a pair of March dates at Bandon Dunes (March 17-19) and the Duck Invitational in Eugene (March 25-26).

Smotherman is hoping that a good season will follow through with a trip to the NCAA Championships set for Alpharetta, Ga. At the end of May.

“We’re young but we have the makings of a strong team,” said Smotherman. “I’m just happy that I can get back out there and contribute again.”