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Second chance

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LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The tingling sensation running down Brandt Jobe’s arms this week has not been spawned by the excitement of returning to the PGA Tour after a long layoff.

While he is surely excited to be back among his colleagues and pursuing his privileged line of work, the regular mini-shocks that shoot from his elbows to the nerve-endings at the tips of his fingers come from something else, from the day his game, and life changed, perhaps for good. They came from the day in his garage.

It was back in 2006, and Jobe, who lives in Southlake, Texas, was sweeping dust when an episode so freakish took place that it almost defies belief.

“I pushed the broom and somehow it snapped clean in half,” said Jobe, 42, incredibly able to maintain a smile while regaling the gory details. “It was like a razor. It cut my index finger and the whole side of my thumb was on the ground. I tried to hide it from my six-year-old daughter, but I was gushing blood and I just picked up the fingers and went in the house and put them in ice.”

A trip to the hospital resulted in three separate doctors telling him that his finger could not be saved, but it was at that point that his luck improved, and without any time to spare. A friend, who is a cardiologist, made a series of phone calls and discovered that a prominent surgeon specializing in reattaching displaced digits was available in Dallas.

Yet, with his finger sewn back into place, Jobe tried to return to the tour too quickly, playing five events last year despite being unable to grip his clubs in the conventional manner. The result was ripped tendons and cartilage, and an enforced layoff of seven months.

The time was spent productively. First, he worked on a more comfortable grip, adding strength to his finger and the joints around it. He also put in some quality time on a personal level. Jobe coached his five-year-old son’s soccer team, took his kids to school and generally, he said, “had a normal life for a while.”

The normal life stands him in good stead for the 2008 season, and just a few minutes in Jobe’s company is enough to understand how much he feels blessed to be given this second chance. Players who have the ability to adopt such a nothing-to-lose attitude have often found unexpected success, though right now Jobe’s comeback is all about taking steps one at a time, just like shots on the course.

“Maybe I have got a second chance,” he said Thursday after his opening round 73 on the North Course at Torrey Pines. “I will try to do the best with what I have. I will never be the same because of what’s happened, but let’s see what I can do.”

Jobe’s ailments mean that he will be working under a Major Medical Extension in 2008. Provided he earns at least $774,164 in 23 events, he will retain his exempt status. Though he's never won in nearly 250 starts, he has pocketed over $6 million in earnings. In 2005, he made 22 of 27 cuts, recording six Top 10s.

The first target is simply to feel comfortable on the course again. No amount of practice back home can get rid of the rust accumulated by such a long absence. “I have got some work to do but I don’t feel I am too far away,” Jobe said. I have had a lot of freak bad luck. I had finally got my career going in the right direction and playing good golf, then to have all these things happen has been unfortunate."

Yet there is certainly no problem with his attitude.

“I appreciate my health and my job," Jobe said. "It is tough and there are some bad days but if you love playing golf this is the place to be. It feels great to be back.”