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Golf Tidbits: Karlsson eyeing return to action

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Pardon the pun in my headline.

Robert Karlsson, formerly a top-10 player in the world, has been out of action since the end of May with an eye problem.

The Swede has had trouble with his vision due to a water blister behind his retina. The ailment, first thought to be an ear infection, was diagnosed in June and was supposed to take between four-to-six months to heal.

The water blister led to depth perception problems. Karlsson first had hoped to return in July for the British Open, but was still struggling with his vision.

As he continued to battle the problem, Karlsson missed a title defense at the Mercedes-Benz Championship last week.

"Robert's sight is not perfectly clear and he still has some problems with the in-depth sight," his manager Lillian Jansson told the Guardian last week. "He is aiming for a comeback at the Vivendi Trophy."

The 2008 Order of Merit winner has been selected to compete next week in the Vivendi Trophy, which pits Continental Europe against Great Britain & Ireland. Now, it is just a matter of waiting to see if he is able to play.

With the eye bothering him for some time before being diagnosed properly, Karlsson had posted only a single top-10 finish this season and four top-20s on the European Tour.

The down season for Karlsson comes a year after he had a remarkable 2008 campaign that included eight top-three finishes on the European Tour, including wins at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Those stats don't include his four top-20 finishes in the four majors, with a share of fourth at the U.S. Open his best placing in a major in '08.

In 2009, Karlsson's only missed cut was at The Masters, but he was also a first-round loser in the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship.

His best finish was a share of fourth in Dubai and in his final event before his eye problems sidelined him completely, Karlsson shared 16th place on the European Tour.

Karlsson is currently 87th on the Order of Merit, and has his work cut out if he is to repeat as champion on that list. There are seven events left before the inaugural Dubai World Championship in November.

The 40-year-old has slid from 12th to 22nd in the world while out of action. He has also missed the first two events in which European players can collect points towards the 2010 European Ryder Cup team.

WELCOME TO THE BIGS

Two big-name amateurs will compete against each other for the first time as professionals this week.

Rickie Fowler, who turned pro this week, left his amateur career on top as he helped the United States win the Walker Cup last weekend.

Fowler, who played collegiately at Oklahoma State the last two years, is the only freshman to ever win the Ben Hogan Award, which is given to the nation's top college golfer.

He has played on the last two Walker Cups, both wins for the United States. Fowler compiled an impressive 7-1 record in those two appearances.

Sam Saunders, whose family ties in the golf world might be bigger than anything he will accomplish on the course, will make his professional debut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event alongside Fowler at this week's Nationwide Tour stop, the Boise Open.

For those who don't know, Saunders has some decent family connections in the world of golf...he's Arnold Palmer's grandson. They have played together in the Father/Son Tournament several times, and Saunders has caddied for Palmer in tournaments on many occasions over the last few years.

Saunders competed for three years at Clemson and has been a professional for about a month now and has competed in some mini-tour events.

MINI-TIDBITS

- For all those questioning who can win the FedEx Cup, the answer is all 30 that made the Tour Championship. The quick explanation looks like this, any player ranked in the top five on the FedEx Cup points list will win the FedEx Cup with a win at the Tour Championship. Anyone outside the top five can win the FedEx Cup with a victory at the Tour Championship, and those above them having poor finishes at East Lake next week.

- Here's hoping Brandt Snedeker can bounce back quickly from that four-putt that cost him a spot in the Tour Championship. It has been a tough season for the 2007 Wyndham Championship winner, as he has missed more cuts (12) than he has made (11).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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