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"With the hamate I always knew I'd come back," Jobe says. "[The finger injury] was uncharted territory. No one could tell me when I could start hitting balls again. How many guys on Tour have cut off their fingers and tried to come back? Zero. The doctor said, 'When they're healed and not bleeding, you can try, but it's going to hurt.'"
Jobe waited but not quite long enough. In March 2007, before he could completely close his fingers into a fist, he tried playing. "I ripped my whole left wrist from the bone," he says. "That was two more surgeries."
Jobe made only eight starts in '09, lost his Tour status and at 44 began to wonder if his career was over. At the time, he needed to make only three more cuts to reach the 150 needed to qualify as a Veteran Member of the PGA Tour, which would allow him to enter some Tour events for the rest of his life. To get that opportunity, the only path was the Nationwide tour, a step down for a veteran like Jobe.
"That wasn't the way I drew this thing up," Jobe says, but after a pep talk from Jennifer and a friend, he decided to suck it up and go for it. "I said, 'Honey, I'm going to be gone for three weeks and figure this out. I going to grind—hit balls and chip and putt and really, really grind.' I went by myself, and eventually I found something."
Jobe found two things, really: He hadn't lost his desire to compete; and he discovered a new way to swing with his damaged hand. Jobe had always hit a power fade, taking the club back on an outside path with a shut clubface and holding on through impact with his strong hands. "The problem was that now, if I got the club where I did before, I couldn't feel where it was," he says. "Plus, I had no strength in my left hand to hold it. The old swing was a lefthand swing."
Jobe has no feeling in his left thumb or index finger, unless you count the painful zing he gets when he pushes back on their tips even slightly. To compensate, he adopted an on-plane swing over his right shoulder, figuring that when he reached the point where his body couldn't turn anymore, he'd know it was time to rotate back for the forward swing. It was a game-changing move, turning his stock fade into a slight draw.
Three years of frustration began to fade. He tied for fifth in a Nationwide tour event in Springfield, Mo., followed by a tie for fourth in Sandy, Utah, and a tie for second in Midland, Texas. Then another setback: Late in the season Jobe broke his driver and while struggling to find a replacement dropped out of the Nationwide's top 25 money list, which would've given him PGA Tour status for 2011. So he went back to Q school and regained his Tour card with a tie for sixth.
This season has been an eye-opener. Jobe has had three top 10s, including a tie for second at the Memorial, followed by a 62 the next day that carried him through the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifying. Jobe has already won more than $1.1 million and is securely exempt through the 2012 season. He is officially back.
Says Jennifer, "When I asked him, 'When will you know when you're finished?' he said, 'When I wake up and don't want to play.' Brandt doesn't ever give up. I knew he would be back out here. It's fun to look out and see him smiling. This is where he should be."
Open week was a series of highlights for the Jobe family. Jennifer, who had never visited the nation's capital, saw the sights with Brandt, Brittan and Jackson, eight. They visited the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian and the Newseum. "What an experience for us," Jennifer says.