OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — As he walks down Oakmont’s front nine, Jim Weathers is greeted by a player’s wife, stopped by a salesman pitching a miracle soaking treatment for achy golfers and recognized by a spectator as “that guy on the Golf Channel.”
Called everything from a physical trainer to a healer, the former Green Beret with bulging biceps and a large tattoo has become a visible fixture on the PGA Tour over the last five years, working with dozens of golfers to help ease their aches and pains.
His biggest client at this week’s U.S. Open is Phil Mickelson, who has been battling an inflamed left wrist. On Friday, Weathers shadowed Mickelson as he shot a disappointing 7-over 77, armed with a roll of mesh wrap, a tin of Tiger Balm and a small bottle of lotion in his left pants pocket.
Weathers has had a busy week, the result of a tough course setup that’s jarring to even the world’s best golfers.
“The first practice round on Monday, Jim Weathers had six other appointments, people hurting their ribs, their back, their wrists,” Mickelson said Friday. “It’s dangerous, it really is.”
Weathers’ work is part physical, and a lot spiritual. Weathers got into the massage business more than 25 years ago, after being treated by a blind, 84-year-old Japanese doctor named Toshi Namiami following a parachuting accident.
“I believe our minds are so powerful they can do anything,” said Weathers, who said he massages with his eyes closed to enhance his sense of touch.
Weathers studied massage and reflexology for two years under Namiami and at Tokyo University. A certified massage therapist, he specializes in reflexology and Shiatsu massage.
He has been called a “healer” by Mickelson and Ted Purdy, but it’s not something Weathers calls himself.
“I consider myself good at what I do,” he said.
He also knows a little bit about healing, having suffered serious injuries in two different accidents. He was trapped underground in a construction accident in 1986 and 13 years later was doing squats in the gym on a piece of machinery that malfunctioned, dropping 380 pounds on him. The accidents left him with metal plates in his spine and neck.
A divorced father of three who turned 46 Friday, Weathers has worked for more than 25 years with athletes as varied as race car drivers and ultimate fighting competitors. He said he finds working with individual athletes, not teams, the most rewarding.
“I like the mental aspect of knowing he’s got to go out there and do it alone,” said Weathers, a California native who now lives in Boise, Idaho.
Weathers said his business has been built through word-of-mouth, helping athletes or just regular folks with pains from carpal tunnel to migraine headaches. He travels about 36 weeks a year.
Wearing a black visor with the words “Never Compromise” on the back, Weathers has 10 clients at the U.S. Open. He spent Friday morning in a 60-minute massage session with Kirk Triplett before arriving at the course and finding Mickelson on the sixth tee.
Weathers would spend the next few hours following the world’s No. 2 player in case his wrist needed some relief on the course – during one round, Weathers was seen walking down the fairway with Mickelson, massaging his hand and wrist. He and Mickelson have worked all week on the wrist, with sessions that include reflexology, Eastern massage techniques and heat and ice, Weathers said.
According to Mickelson, who ended the day 11 over par for the tournament, the treatment seems to be working.
“It’s sore, but it will be fine,” Mickelson said.