Kevin Yu back in playoff hunt after first top-10 since knee surgery

Kevin Yu back in playoff hunt after first top-10 since knee surgery
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Kevin Yu was riding high. His T-7 finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February had just vaulted the 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie to No. 38 in the FedExCup standings. A home game at the WM Phoenix Open was on tap for the former Arizona State star.

But that’s when Yu’s season changed dramatically.

He’s only now beginning to turn things around.

Tournament week had just begun in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Yu was working out with his trainer before heading over to TPC Scottsdale for some practice. Yu was in the middle of a set of vertical jumps when he landed and felt his left knee pop. The sound was noticeable, and walking was nearly impossible.

An MRI revealed a torn meniscus. Yu had to withdraw from the tournament, and he’d go on to miss 20 weeks following surgery and rehab.

“I went two months without hitting a ball,” Yu told recently. “But it changed my attitude. I wish I was healthy, but it taught me to be really thankful for what I have. It refreshed my mind.”

Yu said he felt like Tiger Woods in that he could hit all the shots toward the end of his rehab, but the simple task of walking remained strenuous. He had yet to walk 18 holes of golf when he showed up at his 36-hole U.S. Open final qualifier in Los Angeles. But he surprised himself, getting through two rounds in 3 under, six shots away from qualifying.

Yu’s PGA Tour return came two weeks later at the Travelers Championship. By that time, he’d plummeted outside the top 100 in FedExCup points. The top 70 will make the playoffs this season, and the top 50 after the first playoff event will punch their tickets to all the designated events next year.

In other words, Yu’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Yet, he’s persevered, making the cut at Travelers and then on Sunday wrapping up his third top-10 finish of the season, a T-6 at the John Deere Classic. He’s now leaped back up to No. 88 in points.

“I still have a long career to go, still playing good right now,” Yu said last month. “So, I’m not complaining. I just want to be healthy.”

A few weeks later, Yu is feeling good physically – and he’s trending toward the playoffs.

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