François Calmels is hoping that his four month lay-off from golf, after a freak accident which resulted in the loss of feeling in one finger, will prove a blessing in disguise after an encouraging return to action at the Barclays Kenya Open two weeks ago.
The Frenchman suffered horrific injuries to his right hand after an unfortunate incident on the eve of The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage last December.
Having entered a lift where he lives close to Paris, his pet dog suddenly rushed out of the lift before the doors closed on the leash. With just moments to think, Calmels decided the only way he could save his pet from injury or perhaps even death was to snap the leash by wrapping it around his hand, but in doing so he severely cut the skin on four fingers.
“I have no feeling in my index finger,” said the 30 year old. “I had four fingers cut to the bone, so I couldn’t play for four months. It was a bad time, but it’s over now and it doesn’t matter too much.
“Last year I had a bad season so I had practised a lot for the Qualifying School and my game was OK. Every year I managed to do well in the Qualifying School Final Stage and get a European Tour card or get a good Challenge Tour category, so my hope was to do that again. But it’s better that the injury happened during the winter than during the season.”
A club-mate of Romain Wattel at Bussy-Saint-George Golf Club, Calmels endured one of the most disappointing seasons of his career last year, but he is hoping that the enforced winter break might serve him well as he enters the 2012 season feeling refreshed.
“I haven’t been playing well enough for a few years, but I’ve always managed to do something and get through the season. But last year it got worse so my confidence was low,” he said.
“I think it was a swing thing but also a mental thing, and the mental side of side of the game is more important, because you can have a bad game and still get good results. You can work on the swing but you have to be in a good place mentally, and that wasn’t the case for me last year.”
Calmels made the cut in his first tournament back after the injury at the Barclays Kenya Open a fortnight ago and, while he could not push on and make a charge up the leaderboard, finishing tied 57th, he was just happy to make it to the weekend at Muthaiga Golf Club.
“I think the four month break made me a little bit better, because last year in my first tournament of the year I missed the cut,” he said. “This year I managed to make the cut so that’s good.
“If I didn’t have a break I might have played well at the Qualifying School, you never know, but I’m just happy to get back playing again. For a pro, four months is a long time so it’s great to be back.”Calmels’ next stop is the ALLIANZ Open Côtes d’Armor Bretagne, the first Challenge Tour event of the season on European soil, and he will be joined there by a host of Frenchmen, including Julien Grillon, Xavier Poncelet and Romain Schneider.