Stepping away has refreshed Hnatiuk

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

SELKIRK -- Glen Hnatiuk feels like he has a new lease on life.

After spending much of the past year rehabbing his injured shoulder and relaxing his mind, the professional golfer from Selkirk believes taking another shot at PGA Tour Qualifying School could be in his near future.

"If and when I come back, I'm going to want to come back as a better player than I was," Hnatiuk said yesterday after giving a clinic at his fifth annual Glen Hnatiuk Open at Selkirk Golf & Country Club. "I definitely feel refreshed. Absolutely."

Hnatiuk, who resides in Florida, has been doing some teaching back home but hasn't been practising much.

When an invitation to play a Nationwide Tour event came a couple weeks back, Hnatiuk was quick to answer the call.

"It was good," said Hnatiuk, who missed the cut after rounds of 71 and 73 at the Knoxville Open. "Obviously, I didn't play very well but it was kind of nice to get back to that routine. I've done it for so long and now I've taken a bunch of time off from it. I know the desire is still there and that's a big part of it.

"It was the very first time where I actually had no idea how I was going to play. I always expect to play well, but I was playing once a week for five months. It was just a different perspective. I've never been able to come at it from that direction."

Hnatiuk has battled injuries the past few seasons and conceded the mental grind of feeling like he had to be in the money almost every week in order to secure his status on the PGA Tour was tough to deal with.

"Last year, when my shoulder was bothering me and I wasn't playing well, everything was piling up and it was so frustrating," said Hnatiuk, who earned $54,675 on the Nationwide Tour in 2006. "I figured I could take this year to take a look at things, get healthy and go from there."

So what did Hnatiuk miss most about not playing tournament golf?

"The competition, there's no doubt about it," he said. "Getting out there and playing and competing against the best, it's a pretty good feeling when you're playing well."

Now that he's feeling refreshed, Hnatiuk says his perspective has changed and that could help him next time he gets back out on the PGA Tour.

"When you're playing the PGA Tour, if you don't play in a position where you don't have to worry about it (being in the Top-125), it's always kind of there," said Hnatiuk. "The way I was on the PGA Tour, I would always lock up my card at the end of the year. One year it was in the very last tournament of the year. It's just a part of it.

"Looking at the position that I'm in now, with no status on the PGA Tour, well I'd love to be in that position of being on the 125 bubble. When you're in that position, you think you don't want to be in it. You've got to feel lucky. Once you get out there and you've done it, you know what you're missing and you kind of appreciate things a little more. Maybe I can use it to my advantage."

Hnatiuk has also come to appreciate his health, though he knows he'll have to start pushing his body in practice if he wants to get back to playing golf at the highest level.

"My range of motion is better and there's still some soreness, but it's definitely getting better," he said. "I haven't put it up against a lot of pounding, that's where I really will be able to tell how it is. Hopefully I can get into a few more Nationwide events and play well. I've got to find something to play in and stay sharp."


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