Dublin, OH– Bud Cauley was working on his game, hitting a couple of wedges when an audience of one came upon him thinning a wedge, that audience happened to be an 18-time major winner.
These were not just any shots, in fact they were Cauley’s first in three-and-a-half months after being involved in a serious car accident which involved him and three others.
Cauley fractured six ribs in the crash and four of them had to be plated.
“I was obviously thinking about it the couple of weeks leading up to coming up here,” Cauley said. “It’s always one of my favorite events and favorite golf courses to play. With what happened last year, obviously it’s something else I think about, too. But I was really fortunate with what happened last year to be able to come out and still play golf and do what I love to do. So it was a tough thing last year, just happy to be back out playing.”
Cauley was one of five players to shoot 5-under par at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide but that took a back seat towards a return which was a year in the making.
There was a fear Cauley was never going to play golf again and he admits it was the second question he asked doctors after wondering why he could not breathe.
“Because I had punctured my lung, I wanted to figure that out first,” said Cauley. “And then after that I wanted to know how bad my ribs were broken, what they thought they needed to do and how it would affect me going forward.”
Despite the incident, Cauley still planned on playing the Memorial Tournament as it is one of his favorite courses.
Cauley has viewed a video of the accident from someone associated with the tournament, something he is unsure of why he did, but had no affect neither positive nor negative.
Assessing the accident itself, Cauley stated he was told that the car went off the road, hit a culvert, flew up in the air, spun a bit and then hit a tree. When the car hit the tree, it turned over and the quarter flipped across some little trees, ending up in some grass.
Despite being composed while talking to the assembled media about the incident, he did admit that over the year there were small milestones he had to accomplish such as getting in a car again and driving a car, but the main worries were golf and getting healthy enough to play, which drew most of his attention.
“It was the scariest time of my life,” Cauley said. “I think I learned a lot from it. I’ve always appreciated playing golf. When you’re laying there and you don’t know if you’re going to be able to do it again, it puts everything in a different perspective. It definitely changed me. I think it changed me for the better.”
Justin Thomas is one of Cauley’s closest friends and also one of the first to see him in the hospital.
“That was probably one of the hardest nights I’ve ever had in my life,” Thomas recalled. “I felt like it was somewhat my fault somehow and it was like what if something happens he can’t play golf again. There were a lot of things that run through your head when something like that happens and it’s one of your best and closest friends, but I think going into the hospital and seeing him Saturday after I played just helped me a lot because I just was able to see him and see that he was okay. We’re all very happy to see him back. There’s not many places you could put Bud Cauley and I in the world and we wouldn’t have fun together. He’s one of my boys. I’m excited for the time that he does win and just hope I’m there when he does.”
That support has continued for Cauley who has told Thomas not to feel guilty about anything. He did play money games upon fully returning to practice, but admitted he does not remember his first opponent, a likely sign he lost said match.
Though the season itself has had its fair share of ups and downs, Cauley is just happy to be back playing. Now that he is in contention at the Memorial Tournament, he is looking for the focus to be squarely on that.
“I’ve kind of had a mixed bag of everything,” he said. “I’ve had some tournaments that I’ve played well and not gotten a lot out of it. I’ve been working really hard on my game. I think I’ve missed five cuts by one shot this year. I’m really just trying to clean up my rounds and get the most out of them and really have a nice week.”
Chris Pohl also contributed to this report