Marc Turnesa is sitting at home these days in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., going stir crazy. That’s about all he can do right now.
The PGA Tour pro and Long Island native, who won the tour event in Las Vegas in the fall of 2008, isn’t able to play golf. He suffered a tear in a disc last month, and he’s now on the sidelines until it heals, and that might take some time.
“I went out the other day and putted because I was bored out of my mind,” said Turnesa. “It takes months for this to heal. The last thing they want me to do is aggravate it.”
But it’s certainly aggravating to be sitting on the sidelines while your friends and fellow pros are out there competing. And your status on the Tour is at stake.
The win at Las Vegas gave him a two-year exemption that runs out this year. To keep his playing privileges on the PGA Tour after this season he has to win again or finish in the top 125 money winners. Or, he may have to file for a medical extention, which when he returns will put a lot of pressure on him to win a designated amount of money in a designated amount of tournaments.
Right now, he just wants to get his health and confidence back.
“I’ve had back issues most of my career,” said Turnesa, 32. “I had problems most of last year, but was able to play through most of them. Then I was warming up for the Honda [Classic in February]. I was hitting lob wedges 80 yards. When I hit the fifth one, I took a step back and felt it really bad. I couldn’t even walk.”
At the time, his father, Rockville Links head pro Mike Turnesa, was on a plane headed to Florida to watch his son play. When he arrived he got a text message to say that if hadn’t already left, don’t.
“He was all hunched over and really couldn’t do anything for himself,” said Mike. “I had to help him dress. It’s going to take a while for this to heal.”
After Turnesa won in Las Vegas, he thought the fact that he had an exemption for two years would free him up to play even better. But he struggled last season. “I got into some bad [swing] habits in the offseason, then my short game wasn’t very good. I couldn’t get the ball in the hole. When I got the two-year exemption, I thought it would free me up to just go for it and not worry about fighting for cash. My short game held me back.”
Last year Turnesa only made nine cuts in 29 tournaments. Before he was injured this season, he had played six tournaments and had missed every cut. He has made only one cut in the last 13 tournaments he’s played. Making no cuts means making no cash. Making no cash means losing ground in retaining his playing privileges.
But right now, it’s about getting healthy. He’s watched his good friend Steve Marino stack up a pile of cash the last two seasons and is itching to get back out and compete with him.
“He’s got confidence in his game,” said Turnesa. “That’s what it is all about. I need to get that back.”