The last two years have been painful on the golf course for Ryan Blaum.
A 2005 first-team All-American from Duke University, Blaum and his wife picked up after years in Florida and moved back to North Carolina in 2021 after adopting a son, right in the middle of a PGA Tour season that saw him miss 10 of a dozen cuts.
The two-time PGA Tour Latinoamérica winner found his way into just a pair of PGA Tour events last season, making the cut at just the Mexico Open, where he made his lone Tour paycheck of $48,910
Quite a far cry from consecutive seasons in which he earned nearly $1 million a year on Tour in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
But the last few months have also been painful for Blaum off the course. He underwent kidney stone surgery in late January and wasn’t sure how he’d fare in his first PGA Tour start of this season when he made the trip to Puerto Rico this week.
“That kind of knocks you on your butt,” Blaum said of the surgery. “So I feel like I’m kind of just now feeling energetic again, just coming out of anesthesia and all the stuff they have you on afterwards.”
Blaum certainly didn’t appear to be suffering any ill effects on Thursday, as he fired a 68 in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Golf Club.
Blaum played his way into the event through a Monday qualifier at Wellington National Golf Course near West Palm Beach, Florida, using a 7-under 65 to gain entry.
He started just as hot on Thursday, posting birdies on two of the first four holes.
Blaum, who held Tour cards for three seasons from 2016-17 to 2018-19, stayed consistent throughout the morning, posting identical 34s on the front and back to stay within a few shots of the early-wave leaders.
“It was nice there wasn’t any wind for the first five holes or so today so I was able to take advantage early,” Blaum said. “Then from there, in this kind of wind you have to stay patient, play to the fat side of the green and hopefully roll in a few putts and that’s what I did.”