With a piece of his skull at home as a constant reminder of what he has been through, former Ryder Cup player JB Holmes resumes his career at Torrey Pines tomorrow.
Holmes, a member of America's winning team in Louisville four years ago, underwent brain surgery in September and then was air-lifted back to hospital a month later after suffering an allergic reaction.
His return to action comes at the Farmers Insurance Open, where the field includes Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and England's Justin Rose in his first appearance since becoming a father for the second time.
Holmes, out since he withdrew from the USPGA Championship in August with vertigo-like symptoms, was found to have Chiari malformations, structural defects in the part of the brain which controls balance.
"It feels like it's been forever, but I'm just happy to be back," the 29-year-old said.
"I've been working pretty hard the last few weeks and I'm ready to see how it goes. It was a long process, but I guess compared to a lot of people I caught it fairly quick."
He started feeling ill in May and went to a succession of doctors without success before one proposed an operation.
"The surgery went well, then about a month later I started getting fluid around the scar and got real sick. I ended up being allergic to the glue (used to fix a titanium plate) and a stitch came loose.
"They had me on so much painkillers I didn't remember much. I started out in Campbellsville and woke up in Baltimore - I remember vaguely getting on the plane and getting off."
Looking back on the whole episode in his life Holmes said: "It's scary at first. I got to the hospital, started putting on the gown and it was like 'Wow, I'm about to have brain surgery'. It really hits you then.
"But you've just got to put your faith in God and just hope everything comes out good."
As for the piece of skull taken out he added: "I've got it in my closet on the ledge of a window and see it every day.
"It's not really a souvenir. I asked the guy if I could have it because I grew it, so I figured I may as well keep it. It's just a reminder that I'm very fortunate to be able to go through something like that and be able to come back and play."
How he plays competitively remains to be seen.
The biggest hitter on the PGA Tour last season, he said: "I haven't got all my swing speed back yet, but it's gradually coming."
Rose's daughter Charlotte was born oan New Year's Day and he said on his website: "My mind has been so far removed from golf - it's been great.
"It's been a real privilege to have the time to enjoy the birth and not have to rush off to work. That happened last time with Leo.
"Saying that, it's now been seven weeks off and I've realised how much I'm beginning to miss competing and how refreshed I feel.
"It's great to feel that way heading into the year. I'm excited about the year ahead and I feel my game has held up really well over the off-season.
"I'm clear on what needed improving. Hopefully the areas I've been focusing on will pay off."