Joe Medley: Playing through: Injuries can't keep Chandler, Turley out of Sunny King
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Jul 12, 2013 | 3159 views |  0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Benji Turley, perennially one of the tourney’s top players, could do without his months-long schooling on a torn labrum and the tendon tasked with lifting his left arm up. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Benji Turley, perennially one of the tourney’s top players, could do without his months-long schooling on a torn labrum and the tendon tasked with lifting his left arm up. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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SILVER LAKES -- Golfers are information hounds, but it seems doubtful any player ever wanted to know how much a big toe factors in a shot.

Or a rotator cuff tendon and labrum, for that matter.

Four-time Sunny King Charity Classic champion Ott Chandler sure wishes he didn’t know about playing with a broken right big toe. Benji Turley, perennially one of the tourney’s top players, could do without his months-long schooling on a torn labrum and the tendon tasked with lifting his left arm up.

Neither wants to know about life without the Sunny King Classic, however, and neither wants to let down his partner in the two-man tournament that serves as the jewel of the Calhoun County golf calendar. So, they’re on the course for this weekend’s 35th King Classic, injuries and all.

“It’s a really strong tournament that goes to a good cause,” Chandler said.

Chandler and Turley remain strong players, injuries and all.

Chandler and teammate Nathan Bennett combined to shoot a 59 during Friday’s first round, and their tandem stands five shots back of leaders Adrian Geeting and Kenny Wright.

Turley and Brian Macoy finished their round at Silver Lakes at 64 and stand 10 shots off the lead with two rounds to play.

Chandler and Turley will test their injuries today at Cider Ridge, then Sunday at Anniston Country Club, assuming they withstand the three-day, 54-hole grind.

Turley has taken three cortisone shots this year and may undergo surgery, pending doctor’s advice. He couldn’t lift his left arm two weeks ago and, after undergoing an MRI, told Macoy to consider Plan B.

Turley says he feels better this weekend. He hardly noticed his injury Friday, short of attempting to toss a club to Macoy or ball marker to Ryan Howard, a member of the other tandem in their foursome.

“It feels 80 percent better now than it did two weeks ago,” Turley said. “I don’t know why. I guess it’s taking 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen every day.”

Chandler walks with a noticeable limp. He takes off his shoe to show his “buddy tape,”where doctors taped his big toe and the toe next to it together.

This came less than two weeks after Chandler says he broke his right big toe bone “in half,” and that’s not even the scariest ordeal he has been through lately. The 49-year-old suffered his third heart attack five weeks ago, causing doctors to insert four stents.

Chandler spent eight days in the hospital for the heart attack. He spent three days in the intensive care unit because he suffered a torn esophagus as medical personnel removed a catheter.

Within three weeks after leaving the hospital, he broke his toe while playing the first round of the Silver Lakes Invitational.

“I was playing in flip flops like an idiot and got over on a bank,” he said. “My two partners hit it in the water, and I’m trying a hard hook.

“My feet came out from under me, and the chord on my flip flops just broke my toe right in half.”

Chandler got his buddy tape and a walking boot. Doctors recommended five weeks in the boot, but he shed it after eight days.

He said he feels his first-ever broken toe in even the most routine life activities -- four times in each golf swing.

“When you take the club away, you pressure it on your right foot,” he said. “When you come back through, there’s pressure coming off your right foot. … The harder you swing, the more you feel it. The longer the iron or driver or 3-wood, when you’ve got to push off, the more you feel it.”

Chandler estimated he’s playing at 80 percent in the Sunny King. It helps to have a long-driving partner like Bennett.

“What times I had to drive the ball good, I did,” Chandler said. “But Nathan hit the ball so good that I didn’t have to drive it many times, and that makes a big difference, not having to swing hard.

“If I was out there, having to swing hard, it would probably be 60 percent, just because I couldn’t do it.”

The biggest test for Chandler will come Sunday at ACC, when he has to drive the ball for himself in the best-ball format.

Motivation to play abounds for Chandler. There’s the draw of the tournament, the charities the tourney helps to support and mutual commitment between partners.

There’s also Chandler’s own history and the chance to add to it. If he and Bennett win, then Chandler will have his fifth championship with his third different partner.

“It’s just a prestige thing,” he said of the Sunny King, “but it would mean a lot to me, if we could get out there and win one.”

He vowed, however, to not dance at any of the tournament parties, and he’s learned one important lesson.

“I won’t be playing in flip flops again,” he said.

Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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