BOLTON golfer Kelly Tidy is back from the brink and raring to go just months after being told she may never play the sport again.
The 22-year-old former English and British Amateur Ladies champion has recovered from a debilitating arm condition and is now preparing for her second season as a professional.
Last year was supposed to be her breakthrough debut on the LET Access Tour, but the Harwood Golf club member managed just two tournaments before being struck down by a mystery injury.
Months of misdiagnosis and unsuccessful treatment followed before a Bolton specialist identified forearm ischaemia – a painful condition that restricts blood flow to her arms.
Now, after undergoing acupuncture every 10 days for the past four-and-a-half months, Tidy is back in full training ahead of May’s season opener in Switzerland.
“I can’t wait to get back out and competing,” she said.
“The low point of the past year was when one doctor told me to ‘choose another career’ and I had to face the prospect of never playing again.
“But, luckily, I got myself to the right specialist who knew what he was doing and how to get me back on track. So I guess the doctors don’t always know best.”
Tidy started the LET Access Tour – the feeder event for the main women’s European tour – last season in confident mood after ending her glittering amateur career on a high.
The former Canon Slade pupil was an integral part of the Great Britain and Ireland side that beat the Americans for the first time in 16 years to claim the 2012 Curtis Cup.
After winning everything in the amateur game, she decided the time was right to turn pro.
But, in April last year, after finishing a creditable fifth in Dinard, France, the injury surfaced and a long, and often desperate, struggle began.
After being told she had tennis or golfers’ elbow, Tidy underwent five weeks of physio before going back on the tour, but was forced to pull out of her next event in Sweden after just 18 holes.
A series of scans failed to highlight the problem before she bit the bullet and went to visit Stuart Cosgrove, a musculoskeletal specialist, based in Westhoughton near the Reebok Stadium.
“It had been four months by that point and I was getting impatient,” she said.
“But Stuart saw something different that no-one else had seen in my posture, which was causing the problem.
“As I was hitting golf balls my arms were getting more and more tired because there wasn’t enough blood flow going there and I was losing coordination.
“I was struggling to do even day-to-day things, like putting petrol into my car, drying my hair or writing cards and letters.
“My fingers and wrists would start to ache and I would get shooting pains up my arms.
“I was just uncomfortable generally, but those pains have now gone away and it doesn’t hurt half as much.”
It turned out Tidy’s punishing training regime was the root cause of her problems, and she has now toned that down.
She started hitting balls again in December and is back to about 90 per cent.
“I am going to be very careful from now on, reducing the time I am practising and making the sessions more compact and constructive, rather than just hitting balls all day long,” she said.
“But I am looking forward to getting back on tour and finishing the season in the top five, which would see me qualify for the main tour – that’s my aim.”