N.S. golfer finishes 10th after heart surgery

CBC

Nova Scotia's best junior golfer of 2011 says he feels proud after his first competitive rounds following open-heart surgery in June.

Eric Banks, of Truro, finished in a tie for 10th place at the SunTrust Gator Invitational tournament in Gainesville, Fla.

"I feel really good," the 20-year-old said in a phone interview from Gainesville after the weekend event.

"I'm definitely proud of what I did."

Banks, who won the Nova Scotia Junior Championship and Men's Amateur Championship in 2011, was a member of the national men's amateur team and now plays for the University of Florida on a golf scholarship.

Each of his three rounds on the weekend had a lower score than the one before. Banks finished the 54 hole event at one over par.

"I was kind of a little bit worried about the 36 hole day just because recently I've been getting tired and my heart is still in the healing process," Banks told CBC News.

"After the 36 hole day I felt really good and then the 18 hole day felt really simple. So it was awesome."

Banks' heart troubles surfaced during his first physical at the University of Florida and he returned to Halifax for surgery in June. Surgeons reduced the right side of Banks' heart, which was three times larger than normal.

He did not hit a golf ball for several months.

Banks said he's become more patient after his first year of competitive university golf in the States and after speaking to his heart surgeon.

"I had a few bumps along the way in the healing process," he said.

"She kind of explained to me that it's not like I got my tonsils out or anything. It's a pretty serious thing and it's just going to take a while to recover."

Banks said he's been told there's no structural damage to his heart, which is now half its earlier size. He said the recovery is just a bit slower than he expected.

In 2011, Banks became the second Nova Scotian to win both the men's amateur and junior golf titles.

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