Having been so eager to impress on home soil at this week’s ECCO Tour Championship hosted by Thomas Björn & Mercedes-Benz, Mark Haastrup was naturally frustrated to miss the cut, but the Dane’s disappointment was offset by the relief he felt at finally being able to play pain-free again.
Haastrup endured a wretched run of results on The European Tour last term, missing 13 straight cuts – a far cry from the form he showed during his breakthrough season in 2010 when he secured two top three finishes, firstly behind his idol Thomas Björn at the Estoril Open and later at the Vivendi Cup.
But the bare figures alone do not do justice to Haastrup’s struggle, as the 28 year old has been severely hampered by an injury he sustained in a fall at the end of 2010.
Haastrup broke his right wrist and also damaged the cartilage in the process, but after a period of rest and rehabilitation over the winter months, he returned to the fairways.
In his natural eagerness to build on his encouraging displays in 2010, however, Haastrup began his season on The European Tour last year unable to commit fully to some shots, especially out of the rough.
The situation got worse and worse throughout the course of the campaign until, at the Czech Open in August, he could take the pain no more and finally admitted defeat. With surgery the only option, Haastrup went under the knife last December and subsequently spent a full six months on the sidelines, before making his comeback at the Open de España in May.
Understandably, there was a fair amount of rust in the system, and Haastrup made just two cuts in the seven tournaments he was afforded under his medical exemption.
Thus, he has now returned to Challenge Tour duty in a bid to re-build his confidence and regain full fitness.
Haastrup said: “I tried to play with the injury because I was too eager to come back, which looking back was a mistake because I should’ve been more patient. So it’s been a very frustrating time for me.
“When I first came back I wasn’t in any shape to compete properly, but now it’s getting better day by day and I’m feeling sharper and more competitive all the time. I still have to do some exercises every day to build up the strength in my wrist, but it’s just become part of my warm-up routine.
“There are still some things I can’t do, such as bench presses, but actually I quite like not having to do them! When I’m swinging the club I don’t feel any pain, so that’s the main thing.
“When you’re out for a long time you lose your edge a little bit, especially with your short game. My touch and feel around the greens really suffered, so I’ve been working very hard to get it up to speed again. I’m also thinking better and playing much smarter golf now, so hopefully we will start seeing that in my results. My main aim now has to get myself in the best possible shape for the Q School at the end of the year, and hopefully I can put all my injuries and frustrations behind me and get back onto the Tour.”