Sobel: Marc Leishman’s Surprise WD a Reminder That We’re Still Flying Blind With Golfer Injuries

Sobel: Marc Leishman’s Surprise WD a Reminder That We’re Still Flying Blind With Golfer Injuries article feature image

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marc Leishman

  • Marc Leishman, one of the favorites to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, withdrew from the tournament on Thursday morning due to a back injury.
  • Even in a world with more access to information that ever before, golf injuries like this still come out of nowhere all the time.

People who follow professional golf — and especially those who gamble on the proceedings — think they know all about it, inside and out. They’re convinced that by watching tournament broadcasts and scouring social media and crunching numbers, they have an edge over the masses.

And that’s good: You always want to feel educated as a sports fan, and even more so when you’re putting your money on the line.

Obviously, there’s no barometer for how much knowledge any of us have; there’s no analytical gauge to measure how much we know.

Next month will mark 15 years since I started covering the PGA Tour beat on a full-time basis. I’d like to think I know more about the day-to-day news and rumors and gossip than the average fan — and it’s my job to inform you about what I know — but I’ll also tell this to anyone willing to listen: I know about 0.1% of what’s going on out there.


With more than 200 full-time PGA Tour members and dozens of others with varying degrees of status, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s taking place with every player, every day.

The latest reminder came Thursday morning, when an hour after the first tee shot was struck, Marc Leishman withdrew from the AT&T Byron Nelson with a back injury.

This is the same Marc Leishman who finished runner-up last year, the same one I gushed over in my preview column. He was absolutely one of the top guys on my radar — and I obviously had no idea about the injury.

I even had a caddie who’s working the tournament tell me Wednesday night that he loved Leishman this week.

I’m sure there must have been a red flag inside his camp, but even to those people “in the know,” this came as a surprise.

It’s a shame for those who bet on Leishman as the outright winner or included him in matchup bets; even though they’ll get refunded, you bet on him for a reason. It’s an even bigger shame for those who filled out DFS lineups with him — and there were a lot of those: Leishman was tied for the third-most popular player, with 22.9% ownership. Unfortunately, all of his DFS backers will have a huge goose egg in their lineups.

Trust me, though: Leishman isn’t doing this to screw anyone over. The last thing on his or any other player’s mind when trying to assess whether he’s healthy enough to play is how a potential WD will affect the gambling community.

And we should be thankful for that. If they were considering the money placed on them, their priorities would clearly be in the wrong place.

Anyway, there’s a moral to this story.

As much as you think you know about a sport — and professional golf in particular, with so many individuals to track and no formalized injury report to help — you never really know that much.

You can pore over Twitter, you can crunch all the numbers, but if a favored player’s back tightens up on Thursday morning, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. You’ve gotta chalk it up to bad timing.

You know, just like the player himself.