Niall Turner starts his 2017 campaign this week and he’s hoping for a good start as he makes his return from an injury ridden 2016. After losing most of the 2014 season after surgery on his hip, Turner had a very strong 2015, but he suffered a re-occurrence of the injury again early last season. In 2014 Turner had surgery to correct a condition called femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) that he had suffered from for a few years. Unfortunately for the Waterfall native, the bone spur involved grew back causing the same mobility problems. 12 months ago Turner was fully fit and full of hope, he had retained his tour card in Asia and started in a far better category which assured him of plenty of top level starts. That’s where the good news stopped however as Turner explained: “I started the year in January planning to play four tournaments, but to be fair I knew the hip was going after the first or second tournament. Even going out there I didn’t feel too confident with it, I could feel I was going back down that dark road. I just made the cut in the third event and to be honest I would have been happier to miss it and I ended up withdrawing. I went to the European Tour event in Malaysia the following week but that was horrendous. There was a lot of pain and it’s pretty debilitating as it seizes up and you can’t get through the ball.”
Turner has had a tough time of it since returning from the US, he lost around half of the past five years through injury, almost all stemming from the FAI problem. He wasn’t prepared to give up however so it was back to the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry to his consultant Eanna Falvey. “When I went back to Eanna he sat me down and said we need to figure this out as I shouldn’t have been having the same issue” explained Turner. “We went through the programmes I had been going though and it turned out that the S&C programmes I had been on for the past five years hadn’t been the best considering my injury. To be fair there was never any incident of acute pain, it was a gradual build up so it was hard to determine the cause. Eanna recommended a physio based in Santry, Enda King who specialises in knees and hips and I started with him at the end of March.” Working with King for four hours a day, four days a week was an incredibly intense was to deal with the issue, but it paid dividends for Turner.
The regime continued for six weeks before it dropped back to two days per week. In all it was three months hard work which also included a week-long stay in hospital due to a viral infection. That brought Turner up to June when he had his wedding to look forward to, but it also marked his first game of golf in over four months. “My first game back was the day before the wedding in the Hermitage” said Niall, “it was my first game of golf in four months and I shot seven under bogey free. It was on the back of the blues on a tough course and I thought this was the easiest game of golf I had ever played, this is unbelievable. After that I played a tournament in July in Thailand, a European Tour event and I was playing poorly but I made the cut and that was definitely positive.” There was a further complication for Turner as in September he suffered from a rib injury which meant that he missed the end of the season in Asia. Once the rib injury healed, he focused on 2017 and he’s been working hard on his game to be fit ready for the Asian tour launch in Singapore this weekend. He’s now playing under a medical exemption which should see him qualify for a full season of events on the Asian Tour with several co-sanctioned European Tour events included. Turner now has a run of four events where he hopes to bank some money and gain some momentum on the all-important order of merit.
Turner has Mental Strength to survive on Tour
One of the most interesting things about Niall Turner is that he’s not even calling this his last chance. Despite losing almost half of the past five years to injury he remains naturally relaxed and easy going, there’s no sense of resentment, there’s no chip on his shoulder. Instead he’s very much focused on the next four tournaments. “Throughout the whole lot of it I’ve made a point of never thinking that I’m unlucky” explained Turner. “I think if you start going down the unlucky route you’ll end up in awful form. When the hip happened [in 2015] I was shocked, I thought this is five years of getting bad break after bad break, and injury after injury. I think I’ve learned enough myself over the past five years. You have a choice really, you can take the learning aspects of what you’ve come through. There’s a couple of things that I’ve found that have been a huge help mentally. I don’t really talk myself up but I think I’d be mentally tougher than 99% of golfers out there just from what I’ve been through.” He’s positive too about his chances this month: “I’ve always ended up playing well when I’ve come back from injury and that’s when you’re back is against the wall trying to keep your card, and I’ve always been able to do that.” Turner reached the final of the Irish Close Championship in 2007 when it was held in Cork Golf Club. He lost out to Shane Lowry in the final and went on to turn pro shortly afterwards. After spending a few years on the mini-tours in the US, Turner looked east and focused his attentions on the Asian Tour. He has spent the past four years in Asia, playing initially on the Asian Development Tour. He had his first win as a pro in 2014 when he finished on top at the Jakarta Classic in Indonesia.