TORONTO - Chapter Two in the PGA Tour career of Brantford's David Hearn begins this week, about half a decade after the first chapter ended.
With Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., and Kingston's Matt McQuillan also scheduled to play near Waikiki this week, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames are scheduled to start at the Bob Hope Classic, while Graham DeLaet is on the shelf for about eight weeks after back surgery.
Although he didn't require surgery, Hearn missed qualifying school, where he hoped to upgrade the status he earned by finishing in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, but he was forced to withdraw with an elbow strain, which limited playing until the New Year.
"After I wasn't able to play Q-school, I kind of just rested and rehabbed my elbow. I've been back to the gym and working out full-time," said Hearn.
"It's back to 100% and I don't foresee it causing me any trouble going forward. It wasn't a chronic injury. It was just something that kind of came up, so it shouldn't cause me any trouble," he added.
The injury did keep Hearn from upgrading his status and he goes into the season 40th on the priority list for getting into tournaments, so he won't have carte blanche on which events he plays, but some decent finishes could mean he rises on the list when a reshuffle takes place down the road.
"I would love to have had that opportunity to maybe improve it a little, but in the grand scheme of how professional golf works, I don't think it's going to make that big a difference," he said.
"In reality, it just boils down to playing well when you get into events and regardless of what your number is, you're going to have to play well to do what you need to do on the PGA Tour to succeed," said Hearn.
This situation is nothing new to Hearn, whose rookie year came in 2005. He says it's easy to become overly-concerned with the reshuffle, but it can become a distraction.
"To be honest, the first time I was on tour, I paid too much attention to the reshuffle. This time around, it's not going to be my primary focus. My focus is going to be more on preparing to play well in the events and when you do that, the reshuffle takes care of itself," said Hearn.
"If you're going into an event trying to think of who you need to beat in the shuffle to try and improve your position, I think that's the wrong focus. I think your focus is to prepare to play well," added Hearn, who hopes to play four of the first seven events on the schedule.
Hearn comes into his second year on tour after a 2010 Nationwide Tour season that saw him earn five top-10s, including a runner-up to place 21st on the money list. One big thing that stands out to him as he prepares for 2011 is the number of rising stars compared to when he first played in 2005.
"I was pretty young on tour in '05. There were a couple of other guys around my age. I was 25," he recalled.
"It seems now that there are a lot more younger players from Q-school and the Nationwide this year and obviously, the guys on the PGA Tour who are the young and upcoming stars. I think the tour has gotten quite a lot younger the past few years," he said.
"I'm now 31, so I'm not one of the younger players anymore. I don't think it's considered old. I hope other people don't either, but certainly I'm, hopefully, just hitting the peak of my career in the next few years, but it seems that there are a lot of younger players who are finding their games," said Hearn.