Having already helped him make a Lazarus-like recovery in the past, David Drysdale is confident that Stuart Barton’s healing hands have got him in shape for his return to European Tour action this week.
The 42-year-old’s 17th successive season on the circuit has been on hold since he withdrew from last month’s Dubai event before the opening round due to back trouble, which flared up in his first outing of the year in South Africa and then hampered him in Abu Dhabi.
Instead of travelling to Malaysia after Dubai, Drysdale headed home for treatment from Barton, who was the Scottish rugby team’s physio for 12 years and now seems to have a knack of sorting out the Cockburnspath-based golfer whenever he has an injury. Towards the end of the 2015 season, for instance, Drysdale tore his right calf muscle climbing out of a bunker during the Italian Open, needed a wheelchair at two airports on his way home and was still on crutches the week before the Dunhill Links Championship.
That he managed to tee it up in that event and go on to record a top-ten finish was down to daily visits to see Barton, as well as his recommendation that he should take regular dips into the icy cold water at Pease Bay, close to his home.
“It’s not an ideal scenario running back to Stuart every time I have some issues, but he seems to be the guy who sorts me out,” said Drysdale as he prepared to join seven other Scots in this week’s NBO Oman Open at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat.
“I think I had eight appointments with him when I was home and, touch wood, everything feels fine again. He’s a rugby phsyio, so he is used to throwing big guys around. He puts you through a bit of pain at times, certainly with the needles when he’s doing acupuncture, but it’s the old saying – no pain without gain.
“When I did my calf in a couple of years ago, I was back playing within ten days. I saw him every day for ten days and I was also in the sea. Basically, the European Tour guys said I was out for the rest of the year. They reckoned there was no way I’d be back that year. Not only was I back, but I ended up keeping my card and making it to Turkey for one of the Final Series events.
“This problem is a lifetime of wear and tear, to be honest. I’ve got permanent issues with my lower back and I go and see Stuart whenever I’m home for treatment.”
The nature of the modern-day European Tour makes that difficult and Drydsale is hoping Barton can join him at the odd event this season, as he did when the former Dunbar assistant played in his second Open Championship at Royal Birkdale last summer.
“It was great seeing him before and after every round and I was in really good shape at that point of the season,” he admitted. “We’ve been chatting about it the last eight or nine days and he’s going to come to Wentworth and also do the Scottish Open.
“That will be good as it’s difficult when I go three or four weeks in a row without seeing him. I do use the guys on the European Tour and while they are all good, they maybe just don’t know me as well as Stuart does.”
Joining Drysdale in the first European Tour event to be held in Oman are Paul Lawrie, Stephen Gallacher, Richie Ramsay, Marc Warren, Bradley Neil, Connor Syme and Muscat-based Steven Troup.