I've always loved playing in America, but this time getting on the plane wasn't so easy. Three weeks ago, as I was preparing to leave for California and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, my wife, Heather, who has been battling breast cancer, completed the fourth of six rounds of chemotherapy.
I wouldn't have come over at all if we hadn't just received some good news: After completing Heather's latest treatment the doctors did a CAT scan and told us she was showing dramatic improvement.
Make no mistake, the situation is still quite serious and Heather has a ways to go. Her doctors say that if they'd discovered the cancer just four weeks later than they did, it would have been untreatable. But Heather is determined that, above all, life remain as normal as possible for our family, and that's what my playing is all about. Actually, she almost pushed me out the door, telling me, in so many words, to get at it again. (If you lived with me you'd probably want me out of the house as well.)
Staying in routine is slightly easier because we've been through this before. Heather first had breast cancer three years ago. That time she took treatment and got an all clear three months later. This time she has secondary breast cancer, which means the cancerous cells aren't actually in her breasts; they've moved to her bones and her liver. There was even some cancerous fluid around her lungs, but thankfully, that's already been eradicated.
Naturally, we're on the phone on a daily basis, which is no different from any husband and wife. Our conversations aren't even that different. It's not as if she's in bed all day. She's out and about and doing things.
Throughout all this, friends such as Paul McGinley, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington have been fantastic. When I was home, I was constantly getting text messages from them and Heather often received flowers. An unexpected advantage to being back on the road is being able to thank them in person for all they've done.
Some people think that playing at this time might be hard for me, but I've found golf to be an ideal getaway. The 1st tee tends to blank out what's going on at home. It's said that golf can be a kind of therapy, and I've come to believe that's true. We're hoping that the rest of Heather's chemo works equally well.
DARREN CARROLL/ICON SMI
Heather Clarke (at the '04 Ryder Cup) has shown improvement.