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Senior City Golf
First round
At Orchard Ridge Country Club
Par 71
John Wray…68 –3
Sam Till Jr. …70 –1
Tim Dobis…71 E
Steve Vernasco…73 +2
Mark Childs…74 +3
Dan Gerard…74 +3
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Tom Wood starts off on the 10th hole Monday afternoon during the Senior City Championship at Orchard Ridge Country Club.

Surviving more than a bad round

Just playing Senior City a blessing after accident

Tom Wood shot a 5-over 76 on Monday. That would often be disconcerting to a defending champion of a golf tournament, but it wasn’t to Wood.

The man with five plates and 26 screws in his body – actually, fewer than he used to have – has been through battles far greater than what Orchard Ridge Country Club provided.

He’s been through things more painful than the double bogey he had in the first round of the Senior City Championship, which prompted him to remark, only, “Aw, come on.” No throwing of clubs from a man who 13 years ago was on death’s door, after he and wife Lisa were hit head-on by a drunken driver with a blood-alcohol level of .314.

Wood took the worst of the accident, suffering injuries to his hip, wrist, spleen and just about everything else. He was in intensive care for a week, the hospital for a month and a wheelchair for another month and a half.

“One of my wife’s first questions to the doctors was: ‘Will he be able to play golf again?’ ” said Wood, 53, who is eight strokes back of the leader, John Wray, heading into today’s final round.

Though Wood had long been an avid golfer – he had won the club championship at Pine Valley – Lisa Wood’s question was more about the family resuming its favorite pastime than it was about pride. Lisa knew Tom would want to show his kids he was a survivor. And once he was able to speak for himself, Tom said, “I want to get out on the golf course so my kids know I’m OK.”

Less than five months after his accident, Wood played golf again. After making his first par, on the ninth hole, he sat in the cart and cried. Not long after that, at a golf course, he ran into the Rev. Mark Gurtner, a priest who told Wood he had given him last rites in the ICU.

“I stopped dead in my tracks,” Wood said. “He said, ‘Well, I do that all the time.’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t get them all the time.’ ”

And it’s changed Wood’s philosophy on the course, though he’s still successful, enduring through pain and not being able to extend his left arm above his head.

“I have won a few things myself after surviving this near tragedy, and again, am proud of these accomplishments on the course, but I’m even more proud of the person I have become off the golf course,” Wood said. “Through tragedy you become a ‘big picture’ person, one who enjoys the journey and doesn’t get hung up on the score.”

Sam Till Jr. shot a 70 Monday; he started with a 4-under 31 on the back nine and sank to second place among the 75 players.

“I was just a little jumpy and don’t know why,” Till said. “I will get my thoughts together. I’m a better player when I’m calmer and I wasn’t calm today. I’ll try to get that worked out and come back and see what I can do.”

David Dankert had a hole-in-one on the 168-yard sixth hole and shot a 78.