HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- Boo Weekley is hoping to make golf fun again.
It's hard to imagine the country bumpkin not having fun doing just about anything.
But since Weekley suffered a partial tear of the labrum in his left shoulder in The Players Championship last May, golf has been more of struggle than a joy.
"Golf ain't been nowhere near as much fun as it's been in the past, ever since I got hurt," Weekley said Wednesday. "It feels like it's been an uphill climb ever since, my ball-striking, my driving. Every stat that I felt that I was good at has gone downhill. Now I feel like I've got to climb my way back up out of it. No, golf ain't been fun lately, not for a while."
If there's a venue that can assist in Weekley's quest to make the game more enjoyable, it's Harbour Town Golf Links.
Weekley has played in the Verizon Heritage three times. He earned his only two PGA Tour wins in his first two visits in 2007 and 2008, chipping in on the final two holes to earn his first title and winning by three strokes in the encore. He tied for 13th last year, and his highest score in 12 Heritage rounds is a 1-over-par 72.
"I've got the feeling that this week is the week I come back, that I feel like I can do something," Weekley said. "… It's good to always come back to a place where you won. I'm hoping I can carry that trend, keep the mojo going this year.
"It's been a struggle so far this year, I'm hoping to find something here to turn it around."
Weekley, who played on the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team, enters the 42nd annual Heritage ranked 181st in the world.
The tournament, which tees off today, features 10 of the top 30 players in the world: Jim Furyk (No. 6), Paul Casey (7), Camilo Villegas (13), Robert Allenby (17), Sergio Garcia (19), Luke Donald (23), Stewart Cink (24), Robert Karlsson (25), Lucas Glover (27) and Zach Johnson (29).
Others in the top 40 include South Korean K.J. Choi, South African Tim Clark and Matt Kuchar. Five-time Heritage winner Davis Love III, 2010 PGA Tour winners Bill Haas and Cameron Beckman, and defending champion Brian Gay, who won by a tournament-record 10 strokes last year, are also in the field.
How hard is Weekley working to get his game back to the level of one of the top players in the world? When he was home in Milton, Fla., for the past two weeks, he stayed out of the woods and away from the ponds.
"I've been working hard at home," he said. "The last two weeks I've been off, I've actually played golf when I was at home, instead of going fishing all the time or hunting all the time. So I'm ready. I'm curious. I've got a little itch. I'm ready to get out there and get back."
Weekley, 36 and in his fifth year on the PGA Tour, said he played through intermittent minor pain in the shoulder dating back to his days on the Nationwide and possibly Hooters tours, but he felt it tear last year at The Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass.
"I feel like I'm stronger now than I've been in a long time in my shoulder," he said. "It's trying to get back to where I can feel like I can swing again and trust what I'm doing with the swing."
He's been working predominantly on his putting in recent practice sessions.
"I'm still struggling a little bit with the ball-striking," he said. "I got into so many bad habits with my shoulder being the way it was … the bad habits are still there. I'm trying to get out of them. Now my putting is not cooperating with me. But that's golf. Everybody has that roller coaster in them. But I'd have to say putting is mostly what I'm working on."
Weekley took about a month off following last year's Players Championship to rest his shoulder and made 19 of a possible 21 cuts last year. He had seven top-15 finishes, though just one top-10.
He has missed four of nine cuts this year, with a tie for 24th in Puerto Rico his top finish. He tied for 25th in his last start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
How can golf become fun again?
"Just actually having a couple of good tournaments," Weekley said. "Just actually showing myself that I can feel like I can play again, and feel like when I tee it up I can win. Right now I ain't got a clue. I'm just playing the game.
"… It only takes one swing or one putt, and all of a sudden it's like 'click', like a light bulb."
The light seems to always be on for Weekley at Harbour Town.