July 30, 1999
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Do you want to explain to everybody exactly where--
A.J. EATHORNE: Where I am hurting?
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Yes.
A.J. EATHORNE: I guess where it started was up in my, I guess, left side of my back. And the muscle spasms have just gone from there, traveled down my spine. And beginning of the week, they were into my ribs, which sort of feels like they are piercing on my lungs. So shortness of breath, and that kind of stuff, that is where a lot of pain comes from. It is more sharp pain. Then just over the last couple of days, trying to guard against hurting on the left side, my right muscles have, you know, they are just as tight as the left side now and just one big muscle spasm. Yesterday, you keep walking, all the rest, and sort of get a rhythm going. I was fine with it. I guess it just -- today I was just too tired. The body wasn't willing to finish the swing or willing to go through the balls. I tried, and that is all I could do.
Q. How difficult a decision was it for you?
A.J. EATHORNE: I think everyone knows it was extremely hard for me. This is probably one of the biggest events that I was hoping to come to, and it was hard. But I saw my mom was pretty close to tears seeing me in tears. So that was one of the final ways. I was like, if you don't start hitting it good now, pull out. I hit sort of a good drive, but that is easy to hit it off a tee. Then the second shot was about a foot off the ground, 6-iron. That was it. I just said I can't deal with it anymore. If I am not going to hit good shots in pain, then no point in having the pain. Besides, playing with Meg and Wendy they were playing great. I don't want my game to affect what they are doing. So they respected that.
Q. Did they almost have to drag you off?
A.J. EATHORNE: I think they were thinking about dragging me off pretty soon. It was my decision it was time to go. And maybe it was a few holes too late or whatever, but at least I tried. To me, I didn't I guess prepare well enough. I should have taken a few weeks off before this event. But that is always -- hindsight is always 20/20. So next year I will be a lot better prepared, and hopefully I will just get better for the rest of the season.
Q. How far did you get?
A.J. EATHORNE: I got to the 7th hole.
Q. All the way through the 7th?
A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah, I kind of walking up to the 7th. I had a birdie putt. I thought my 6-iron hosel shot made it to a pretty close range. I thought I'd try to make the birdie putt, then I just 3-putted actually from there. But it was sort of in my mind like I should just pick up the ball, and I went to Wendy and Meg and said: Thanks, guys. I got to go.
Q. This is your decision?
A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah.
Q. Dean said that Meg in a nice way had said something to you about almost encouraging you to --
A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah. Everyone kind of knew it was coming. But Meg said she had a lot of respect for me for trying as hard as I did; try to tough it out, because she knew how important it was for me to play in this event. But then again, she said: Shows even more coverage to pull out at a time and say, you know, before I totally lose it and before my back goes out then, that I had to go.
Q. Did you have a lot of people on your case last night?
A.J. EATHORNE: Not really. Just went home to bed and said, see how we will wake up in the morning. I felt very -- I felt good, I guess. Heart- and head-wise I was ready to go with lots of energy, but the body just was too tired.
Q. Safe to say you scrapped plans to go to Britain?
A.J. EATHORNE: Very safe to say. It is just not healthy to go over there, not go on a 12-hour plane ride there and back. The best way to get better is to rest it fully. And so I am going to take the next two weeks totally off from golf and probably three weeks before I can come back. But that way I can build it up to be even stronger when I come back. Instead of just being about 75%, I want to be 100.
Q. You are going to head home today?
A.J. EATHORNE: Oh no. I am sticking around. Got some friends up there, so I want to watch them win. And this is my first time even at this event so I'd love to stay for the whole event, just cheer everyone on.
Q. Somebody who has suffered back spasms himself and been on all fours at times, was it that bad for you?
A.J. EATHORNE: There is a lot of pain in there. Like I was trying to explain to a few people today that if you got maybe a little hard punch or something from your brothers or sisters or your buddies in the back shoulderblade, someone really nailed on you, that pain that you get at first, that is constant. It doesn't really go away. So that is kind of the pain that is constant that you are dealing with and then when I swing there is the sharp pains, but I don't really know what is normal right now because it has been that way for a week and a half or so.
Q. Taking painkillers or anything like that?
A.J. EATHORNE: Just a few ibuprofens here and there. I am really not big on that. The minimum I take, and doing a lot of ice and heat, all the rest of it, that feels a lot better than anything.
Q. How have Keith and Karen been?
A.J. EATHORNE: Keith has been huge helping me out. I have been there in the morning and Karen is also very good, specializing more in backs, so we -- during the Pro-Am, when I took the time off, I did three treatments that day. We did two before I played yesterday and one after and so I mean, we are trying. They did the best they could do, but probably Monday Keith said it was almost to the point where they couldn't help me anymore. The only thing that could help was rest.
Q. You are definitely not going to go back out until you feel you are 100% this time?
A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah. Three weeks if it -- if it is not ready, there is no point in going out. I played poorly the last few weeks and as much as I want to blame it on maybe a bad putt here or there, whatever, when your body is not 100% it is hard to have a good attitude out there. I don't want to go out there unless I have got a great attitude and the body that has enough energy to go with it.
Q. I would imagine -- I mean, you battle a sore back, it is easy to try and compensate by changing your swing a little bit; you could get into bad habits?
A.J. EATHORNE: I had a lot of those, yeah, working on a few swing changes that are trying to help me, but with a bad back, I am making compensating moves that are actually hindering me even more just because you keep -- you slouch, you get within yourself and you think that that is where the pain will slow down in there, but it actually gets worse. Just try and work on some moves when I get healthy again, so that I can play 25 events a year, 30 events a year, but my -- I wasn't ready for it. It took something like this to realize that.
Q. Are you concerned at all being so young and having back problems?
A.J. EATHORNE: A lot of people say you should worry about it, but it is what I do with it that is going to be the big factor. My recovery time, I am in fairly good shape, so it should be a lot quicker than most people. I am just going to do everything right right now as far as resting completely and then getting on a good program to build up the strength again so that it doesn't happen again.
Q. Has Karen pinpointed any particular problem or is it just something that is evolved?
A.J. EATHORNE: It might be a factor. Before everything relaxes, we can't really say for sure. I think once I get back into being strong again or once the muscles have relaxed, we can go in and see which muscles are the weakest or where my shoulder tends to be sitting. Before the beginning of the year we had a few problems, we were trying to bring my shoulder blades in a little so that may be something what we have to go back to and restart.
Q. Do you think it was just simply overwork that led to it or have you had back problems in the past at all?
A.J. EATHORNE: I have had a lot of sore muscles before and that could have led to it. I am not real sure. But I think a lot had to do with I kept trying to play well and the more I did, I think the more I slouched, I got in my swing which in turn hurt me more with my muscles. The pressure I put on myself and the stress that I put on myself, I think that didn't help at all. That was a big leading factor into it.
Q. They say things happen for a reason. Do you think you may look back on this as a positive?
A.J. EATHORNE: Yeah, I think most definitely. I am 23; I have got sore back problems, but I am glad I am not having them when I am 35 and going: I don't know what to do with it. Now I can solve it now and have the right treatment and really get started in a good program from the beginning and then be out here a long time.
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