PGA Tour regular Zac Blair targeting a return ‘late this fall or early next spring’ after having shoulder surgery
Former Fremont High and BYU star appeared at the State Amateur media day Thursday at Alpine Country Club to talk about the event and his own recovery
Everywhere he goes, PGA Tour regular Zac Blair gets asked the same two questions:
Where did you go?
And when will you be back?
The answer to the first question is easy: Blair had shoulder surgery last November to repair two tears in his right labrum (shoulder). His right arm was in a sling for more than six months, making golf impossible at any level, let alone on tour.
“It is the biggest tournament of the year, and for me it is always fun to come and support it, see the course and hang out with my friends. … I have a bunch of friends playing in it, so hopefully one of those guys can win it.” — Zac Blair
The answer to the second question is a bit more difficult: Blair can only play one or two rounds a week now as his rehabilitation continues.
“I am hoping to be back sometime this fall, maybe early next spring,” Blair said Thursday after playing a round at Alpine Country Club with media members and Utah Golf Association officials at the annual media day for the Utah State Amateur.
The State Am begins Monday at Alpine CC in northern Utah County and runs through July 17. Blair and other former champions such as Dan Horner and Kelton Hirsch took questions from reporters and discussed what makes the event so special.
“It is the biggest tournament of the year, and for me it is always fun to come and support it, see the course and hang out with my friends,” Blair said. “… I have a bunch of friends playing in it, so hopefully one of those guys can win it.”
Of course, PGA Tour guys don’t routinely show up at amateur events, so Blair’s presence added some flavor to the day’s proceedings. And it gave the former Fremont High and BYU star a chance to provide an update on his career and a golf project he started near Aiken, South Carolina, last year.
After missing the cut in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas last October despite shooting 71-68, Blair announced on Twitter that he needed surgery for “multiple” tears in his labrum and would be out indefinitely.
“Obviously disappointed, but I am looking forward to a full recovery and getting back sometime in 2021,” he wrote.
Blair was told it would take about a year to recover, so he figures he’s slightly ahead of schedule.
“It is a slow recovery,” he said. “Yeah, it has been hard. You know, at least I can play once a week now. For six or seven months I couldn’t even swing or touch a club or anything. That was really like, ‘Man, this sucks.’ I would love to be playing golf.’ But it is what it is.”
His playing partners on Thursday said he made five or six birdies at Alpine, which is in excellent condition and ready to host its first State Am since 2016 when Patrick Fishburn won. The former BYU golfer is now playing on the Korn Ferry Tour.
As for Blair, he’s happy to just be playing again. Anyone who knows the son of longtime Utah pro Jimmy Blair knows he plays more golf than anyone on the planet. He lives and breathes the game.
So how hard has it been to go without it?
“Yeah, it is kind of crazy, more from the standpoint that I used to be able to play as many holes as I could,” he said. “There were no restrictions on it. And now, I can’t physically do it, not right now at least.”
Blair said he will return when he feels like his shoulder will hold up for two or three weeks of tournaments at a time.
“It is probably good that I can’t (play on tour) because I would if I could,” he said. “It has been challenging, but it has been fun to be able to spend more time with the family and hang out. The baby boy (Charlie) is pretty young. It has been cool to see him grow up.”
Earlier this week I found out I have multiple tears to my right labrum and will need to have surgery ... obviously disappointed but I’m looking forward to a full recovery and getting back sometime in 2021!— Zac Blair (@z_blair) November 1, 2020
To fill his time, Blair has continued to work on “The Tree Farm” — a golf project in South Carolina not too far from Augusta National. He started a golf club, called the Buck Club, a few years ago but it has been a club without a golf course until now.
His original plan was to build it in Utah, but as he “became more educated on the whole scope of the project,” he decided to take it out of state.
He said his investment group hit “a big milestone” last month, surpassing more than $10 million in investments for the project.
In January, he hired a pair of golf course architects, Tom Doak for routing and Kye Goalby for construction.
“The project out in South Carolina has taken a good amount of time,” he said. “So it is definitely something that has kept me sane and not bored out of my mind on the down times.”
Blair said he began chipping and putting about six weeks ago, and at first it didn’t go well.
“Right when I came back, it was shocking to see how badly I was chipping the ball,” he said. “That was probably the most noticeable thing. When you don’t practice, you are not as good. Hopefully I am chipping a little bit better now.”
Blair is on a major medical exemption now, and will regain his PGA Tour status when he is healthy. He figures he will get a “fair amount” of starts — between 20 and 25 — so basically a full year to retain his tour card for the following year.
Will he be the same ol’ Zac Blair, full of swagger and confidence?
“Oh yeah, for sure,” he said. “I know that when I am playing good, I am really good. So that’s all that really matters.”
That, and being able to play golf any time he wants, which for this guy is seven days a week.