Beal back after surgery

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The Independent Online

Three months after fearing a tumour in his left eye could mean the end of his European Tour career, England's Andy Beal is preparing to make his competitive comeback.

Beal, a 36-year-old father of two, underwent surgery in December to remove the eye, but has now started practising again and will return to action in a PGA regional event in Cornwall on 23-25 April.

The Salisbury professional said: "Two years ago I noticed a coloured segment in my eye and then that the pupil had become mis-shapen.

"I was referred from my optician to my doctor, then to the local hospital and then to St Bart's in London. I got a second opinion at Liverpool, who agreed that something had to be done.

"There was an alternative to the surgery, but it was a fairly new procedure and carried risks, so we decided it best to go for the removal.

"I pretty much thought that was it for golf, but after sitting out January I started hitting some shots again and in the first full round I played I was under par. It was a nice surprise. It feels like I've been given a second and last chance.

"I'm going to have to put in a lot of work on the short game, though, because that's where the biggest difference comes.

"The Tour's benevolent fund has helped me out financially during the time I've had off, which is marvellous. It's given me a chance to find out how well I might still be able to play.

"If things go well I've still got a ranking for the Challenge Tour and might start entering events there later in the season and maybe I could even get some starts on the main tour."

Beal, the West of England professional champion in 1989, needed nine attempts before coming through the tour qualifying school. He was 83rd on the Order of Merit in 1998, finishing third in the Madeira Island Open and sixth in the BMW International, but then lost his card a season later.

He is hoping to speak to the American Ted Tryba, who has won twice on the US Tour in the past six years and earned nearly $4m (£2.8m) despite being legally blind in his left eye, which was punctured by a stick when he was only four.

Beal is only just getting used to his new look on life, but the surgery was not the only big thing to happen in December. His wife, Claire, is expecting their third child in September and he jokes: "It must have been a one-eyed conception."

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