England’s Benn Barham has targeted the Barclays Kenya Open as his comeback tournament after recovering from an operation to have his kidney removed.
Having been diagnosed with kidney cancer, the 34 year old from Kent underwent surgery late last year and is now back practising again.
Barham was forced to withdraw from the 2010 Qualifying School, meaning he will now play on the Challenge Tour this season in a bid to return to The European Tour.
He told BBC Radio Kent: “I’m back practising. I’m not 100% with my game, but I’m along the right lines. Without my expectations rising too much, hopefully I can get back to a decent standard in the next few weeks.
“I’m hitting the ball quite nicely. I’ve been on ranges under cover away from the weather, and I’ve been playing quite nicely. I’ve played a couple of full rounds, and the fitness element is going well.
“The money is an issue, of course. I had a couple of good years on The European Tour, but it doesn’t last long. I haven’t been earning for the last four or five months, and it’s tough.
“But if I work hard now, hopefully I can play some decent golf and put what happened last year behind me. My main aim is to be more successful than I was before.
“I’m hoping to be of a good enough standard to start competing again at the start of February. I’m not sure when my first tournament will be, but the Challenge Tour starts up again at the end of March.
“I might get a few invites to play on The European Tour, but if I don’t it’ll be in Kenya on the Challenge Tour at the end of March.”
Barham admits he is lucky to be back playing golf at all, after fearing his career may be over.
“There was no guarantee I was going to be able to play competitive golf again,” he said.
“They cut in and were pulling apart muscles to get to my kidney, so you have to look at every possibility. I was chatting to one of the physios and said “I hope to be playing golf again soon”, and she said “You should be able to play”. I thought “Should? That’s not an option”. It then sunk in that I might not be able to play again. It was quite harrowing at the time.
“I’d like to promote awareness in early screening, and urge people to get checked out if you’ve got a slight problem, because I’m living proof that it’s probably saved my life.”