Texas will begin its spring season without two of its starters because of a freak accident.
Seniors Pierceson Coody and Parker Coody are expected to miss at least one tournament after both suffered fractures to their right arms during a post-workout relay race earlier this month.
“All we cared about was winning the race, and we took it a little too far,” Pierceson told GolfChannel.com on Tuesday. “It was just a freak accident.”
The Coody twins, the race’s anchors, were neck and neck as they sped down the turf at Texas’ indoor Athletic Performance Center. After lunging across the finish line, the Coodys simultaneously slammed into the padded cement wall, their outstretched arms absorbing the brunt of the impact.
“At first, it felt like, hopefully, my wrist was jammed up,” Pierceson said, “but after about 10 minutes, when you can’t move your arm at all, it was obvious something was very wrong.”
X-rays revealed for each Coody radial-head fractures, just below the right elbow.
Luckily, the prognosis is not season-ending, with the Coodys already four weeks into what is expected to be an eight- to 12-week recovery. Doctors opted against putting the Coodys’ arms in casts to prevent muscle atrophy, which likely would’ve extended the twins’ recovery timelines significantly. Instead, the Coodys have been wearing matching slings and undergoing aggressive rehab back home in Plano, Texas.
All things considered, the twins are in good spirits.
“For us to be literally in slings together, doing physical rehab together every day, it’s kind of ironically funny,” Pierceson said.
With about two weeks left until his bone fully heals, Pierceson can barely grip his putter, though he’s optimistic that he’ll be cleared to hit balls by the end of January. Parker, whose break wasn’t as severe, is slightly closer to a return. Still, the Coodys are playing it safe.
“We just have to be really cautious,” Pierceson said. “If you’re not, you can run the risk of irritating a tendon or something, and that’ll end your season.”
The injury bug has plagued the Coodys in recent seasons. Pierceson was stricken by a virus twice last spring, first at the Walker Cup and a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, which he withdrew from after the first round. He also had a right shoulder issue two seasons ago. Parker battled a back injury last season.
This latest setback will force the Coodys to miss the Longhorns’ spring opener, the Southwestern Invitational on Jan. 24-26 in Westlake Village, California, and likely the following event, the Amer Ari Invitational on Feb. 3-5 in Hawaii. Texas’ third event of the spring, the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas, isn’t until late February and could potentially be a return date for both twins, though nothing is certain at this point.
“It is what it is, but all we can do is be patient and let them heal,” Texas head coach John Fields said. “It’s just been wild, with this whole COVID thing and the potential for different things to happen. I told the guys at the beginning of the year, somewhere down the line we were going to have to be flexible and be able to handle everything that is thrown at us. This is no different.
“The only way that you’re going to have success in this world right now is to be resilient. We’re being tested a little bit, but they’re healing up and they’re doing all the right things. … I’m looking forward to seeing them Jan. 10, and then they’ll play when they’re ready.”
With the Coodys out, a super-talented-but-already-thin Longhorns roster will be challenged. Senior Cole Hammer and juniors Travis Vick and Mason Nome will be counted on to carry the load, while junior Will Thomson, a former prep standout who has struggled to crack the lineup, will see his role expanded. “As unfortunate as it is,” Pierceson said, “you hear all these football players say, ‘Next guy up,’ and Will’s been that next guy up for a while now, so it’ll be nice for him to have a chance to prove what he’s got.”
Sophomore Randall Fojtasek and freshmen Alejandro Gonzalez and Jeffrey Zatorski are among those most likely to see time at the five spot.
“Good, bad or indifferent,” Fields said of his youngest players, “they’re going to get an opportunity.”
Texas ended the fall ranked eighth by Golfstat, so an extended absence for the Coodys shouldn’t affect the Longhorns’ postseason prospects. The key will be making sure the twins are healthy come regional time in May, as Texas looks to avenge a shockingly poor performance at last season’s NCAA Championship, where the Longhorns missed the 54-hole cut. It will also be the last chance for the Coodys and Hammer, who played big roles for Texas’ 2019 NCAA runner-up squad, to win a national title, as they are all expected to turn pro this summer.
Even with the Coodys’ injuries, Fields is confident heading into the spring.
“I feel like I’ve got the makings of this being the best team that I’ve ever coached,” said Fields, who also coached Texas’ NCAA title-winning squad led by Jordan Spieth and Dylan Frittelli in 2012, as well as the Longhorns’ 2016 NCAA runner-up team that included Scottie Scheffler, Beau Hossler and Doug Ghim.
“We’re going to ride this and be ready to rock this year, one way or another, and we’ll see what happens.”