Glasson's birdie barrage tells him that his back is back, after four years


POTOMAC -- There is nothing like 13 birdies in a pair of weekend rounds to get a golfer's attention.

This is especially true when it is a former PGA Tour winner trying to work his way back from the ranks of the medically disabled.

That was the position nine-year tour veteran Bill Glasson found himself in earlier this month. It was an important stage in a comeback Glasson hopes continues in positive fashion today in the Kemper Open at TPC-Avenel.

Glasson, 32, is best known in the area for achieving his first tour victory at the 1985 Kemper Open when it was held across the street at Congressional Country Club.

It is easier to capsulize his golf than his health in the intervening period.

On the course, he won twice in 1988 and once in 1989, with career earnings of about $1.6 million.

Off the course, he has been bothered by chronic knee problems for years (including three surgeries), and more recently by severe back pain.

"I've had the back problem for about four years; it actually got to the point where I couldn't walk," he said yesterday after posting a 3-under-par 68 in the pro-am tournament.

"It's not muscular, so the changes in weather haven't bothered me. It's structural, but I hope to be able to get back to playing full time."

He had only limited success while playing in six of this year's first 17 events. He missed the cut at Greensboro in late April, was off a week, then bounced back at Atlanta.

"That was my basic start, as I was in the top 20 at Atlanta and top 10 at Byron Nelson. At Atlanta, I made the cut on the nose, then made 13 birdies on the weekend," he continued. The two were back-to-back and marked the first time he had made two consecutive cuts since last year.

"That was encouraging, because there is a difference between going out and going out knowing you'll play well. In doing that, I got over a big hump.

"I spent last week working with [his teacher] Kent Cayce [head professional at Congressional CC]. For the past two years, I was not physically able to do the things he wanted me to do. Now, physically, I can do what he wants.

"It makes you appreciate what you had before and now I'm working on the mental part. You have to get over wondering if you can do it -- am I capable of it.

"That's why Atlanta and the Nelson were so important. I had to prove to myself I could do it. Right now, I feel confident about where I'm going, where Kent is taking me."

* IN AND OUT: Scott Gump, Greg Kraft, Tim Simpson, Fulton Allem and Jay Delsing have withdrawn from the Kemper. They will be replaced by Bobby Mitchell, Bill Kratzert, Forrest Fezler, Tom Jenkins and a golfer to be named.

* MORE GLASSON: Glasson's 68 led his team to a one-stroke victory in the annual Kemper Open pro-am tournament. The team, third off No. 1 in the morning, finished at 16-under 55.

Glasson's tour included an eagle at No. 13, where he reached the fringe of the 524-yard hole in two, then holed a 40-foot chip shot. He also had four birdies and a double bogey (No. 6, where he put a shot in the water fronting the green).

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