HILTON HEAD ISLAND — Jason Bohn laughed with his playing partners Wednesday after leaving the second green with an eagle-3 at the RBC Heritage pro-am.
Thoughts of his stunning heart attack two months earlier were the furthest thing from his mind.
“This is what I missed,” Bohn said.
Bohn is back on the course after leaving the Honda Classic in late February by ambulance. What doctors discovered was frightening: the healthy, 42-year-old had a nearly complete blockage in his left anterior descending artery that, if unchecked, could’ve killed him.
“It’s definitely put life into a bigger picture,” Bohn said.
Despite the dire diagnosis, Bohn said he never gave into thoughts his golfing life was done. Doctors took care of the blockage, using a procedure called coronary angioplasty in which a stent is inserted to widen the artery.
Bohn was put on an aggressive course of cardio rehab — “Maybe more cardio exercise than I’ve ever done in my life,” he said — and is on several prescription drugs. Bohn said he received a competition waiver from the PGA Tour for a beta blocker he was prescribed.
About three weeks into his rehabilitation, Bohn considered Harbour Town Golf Links as the perfect spot for his return. The tight layout is one of his favorite courses and “selfishly, it’s an easier walk,” he said.
Bohn acted like someone with boundless energy and the enthusiasm to tackle golf on the hilliest of terrains, though.
The last hurdle came when Bohn got a positive test result, doctors saying his heart was 100 percent fit to play golf. That’s what Bohn has done since arriving here Monday.
He played 18 holes Tuesday, then a full pro-am round to prepare for his first event since leaving the Honda on Feb. 26.
“I’m not really fatigued,” Bohn said. “I feel like right now I have more energy, maybe it’s because I’m really excited and the adrenaline is kind of carrying me through.”
Not everything is the same.
Bohn said he spoke with Erik Compton, a PGA Tour player who competes after two heart transplants, about what to expect. Compton said Bohn might feel some shortness of breath at times or fatigue in situations where he did not strongly exert himself.
“I’m completely ignorant in what to expect,” Bohn acknowledged.
What’s caught Bohn off-guard the most is the support he’s gotten from every corner of the golf course. Fans stopped him continually Wednesday to wish him well. Sean O’Hair talked with Bohn when the two crossed paths off the third tee and sixth green.
“Emotionally, that’s been the most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with because it’s really touching,” Bohn said. “I’m amazed at how close we are” on tour.
Bohn’s not sure where his game is. He had two seconds and a third in eight events this season and earned more than $1.2 million before his heart problems. Bohn said his mechanics are good, but his swing speed is not where it was.
He’s hopeful things will fall into place in time.
“I’ve hit some really good golf shots the last couple of days,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about that.”
Bohn does not plan to slow down his schedule, saying he’ll play the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in two weeks, then follow with the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, and The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
“I can handle it,” he said.
Bohn said he enjoyed the extra time with his family while recovering, but missed the competition. “I know it sounds odd, but I missed grinding over that 4-foot putt,” he said. “I really did miss it.”
Bohn’s return is a focus at the RBC Heritage, where world No. 1 Jason Day is the only top-10 player taking part in the week following the Masters. Englishman Danny Willett, the newest green jacket winner, is absent, too, along with this year’s runner-up and last year’s Masters champion Jordan Spieth.
Bohn is simply glad he’s part of the field.
“I really just feel blessed to even have the opportunity to play again,” he said.
His mechanics are good, but his old swing speed is not fully back.