When the news of a frightening auto accident involving PGA golfer Bud Cauley began to disseminate last Friday night, social media immediately hummed with activity, as is usually the case when pro athletes are involved in an incident, especially one whose initial images raised fears of serious consequences.
But for University of Alabama golf coach Jay Seawell, it wasn’t just a story involving a talented young player.
It was one of his boys.
Cauley finished his golf career at Alabama in 2012. But Seawell has built a program where many players become professionals but few leave their Crimson Tide connections behind.
Seawell had not talked to Cauley in the hospital when he met with media earlier this week — “Bud has been in and out of surgery so it isn’t time yet,” Seawell explained. But the coach been in near constant contact with Cauley’s family since the wreck in Dublin, Ohio, that injured Cauley and a former NHL player, both passengers in a car that investigators say went airborne at a high rate of speed.
Seawell’s concern, though, is with Cauley’s health, both physical and psychological in what will certainly be a long process of therapy as he seeks to return to PGA-level health and activity.
“I got a text from his grandmother just a little while ago,”Seawell continued. “We communicate pretty often. He has made it through surgery and (is) in good spirits. He was looking at three or four more days in recovery and then be in Columbus a bit longer. He can’t fly because of the displaced lung. The rehab will take longer because of the broken leg and because of the ribs. They were so badly displaced that he had to have four plates put in. He’s not sure when he is going to get back on tour.”
Seawell said on Monday that the memory of the initial phone call and the first images of the totaled car were still jarring.
“I went through the cycle you go through in those situations — shocked, then scared, then worried and then, fortunately, relief,” he said. “I’m not going to say the first reports were vague — we knew it was a bad crash — but we didn’t have all the details. And of course I was immediately getting a lot of texts and calls asking me what I knew.”
It was an Alabama teammate of Cauley’s, Justin Thomas, the No. 1 player in the world but also a concerned friend, who provided the first point of contact.
“Justin (Thomas) was there (playing in The Memorial) and he visited Bud the next day and he really kept us informed. So many other former players have been in touch.
“That’s what I told his grandmother. I’m going to talk to him later when he is feeling a little better, but I asked her to relay to him that there are a lot of people in Alabama who are truly concerned about Bud, who are asking about him and thinking of him every day.”
Seawell said that the outpouring of concern and affection was no surprise.
“This is really a family, it really is. Mal (Moore, the former UA director of athletics who hired Seawell) used to say it all the time. From the day I was hired, Mal told me ‘Jay, there’s something special about Alabama.’ It gets into your heart. It’s different than any other place I’ve ever been.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.