Suffering a back injury that needed physical therapy isn't an ideal situation for golfers.
But it turned out to be a blessing for Philip Knowles.
The Bradenton Christian senior suffered a lower back injury as a side effect of a hip injury that occurred over time between golf and baseball.
Knowles began physical therapy last February and had to quit playing baseball for the Panthers.
"To keep my back in shape and to remain healthy, I have to work out pretty regularly and keep myself in shape," said Knowles following a practice round Monday via phone. "So because of my injury, I've picked up 20, 25 yards on my driver. I've picked up 10 yards on my irons."
That added length is coming in handy at the right time as Knowles aims to become the first BCS golfer to win a state championship when the Class 1A tournament begins Tuesday at Mission Inn's El Campeon course in Howey-in-the-Hills.
The El Campeon course is one that Knowles played two years ago, where he logged a tie for seventh place - the best state finish in BCS program history.
Knowles said he estimates there are about six holes that he can attack now compared to two years ago due to the added length.
"I can hit mid-irons into them instead of long irons," Knowles said. "It's a big difference out here."
This time of year showcases swirling winds at Mission Inn. That can hurt the mentally fragile as difficult conditions put an emphasis on grinding every shot out.
Knowles, though, relishes the chance to face windy and tough scoring conditions.
"I like to be in the heat of things, I like to grind," Knowles said. "I like days where you have to shoot even-par to win, not shoot 6, 7-under. Even though I know I can, I'd rather shoot even-par because harder conditions, a lot of kids can't take it mentally and that's one of my strengths. I just tend to excel in that I know how to flight the ball really well."
Part of that mental makeup is his roots with baseball. As a pitcher, Knowles became equipped to buckle down and zero in on hitters at various stages of the game.
It's translated into a stronger golf game with a closer-like attitude in his rounds.
"To be a pitcher, you have to have that bulldog mentality," Knowles said. "You want to be in the thick of things. You're going to have to grind out situations some times. I think that's really helped me, because as it relates to golf you sometimes get in situations where you just have to hunker down and get to work."
With the added tournament experience, mentally strong game and added length, the only thing preventing Knowles from being in contention this week is his health.
Knowles said he woke up this past Saturday unable to swallow due to a sore throat. He has other cold-like symptoms, but completed a practice round Monday just fine.
"I'm more concerned about my health right now than my game," Knowles said. "I'm fighting back a cold and a sore throat, but I've been hitting it well and I've been putting it well. So I'm excited."
Should he take down the field at Mission Inn, he'll become the first Panther to win a boys state championship and cap a blistering high school career in style.
"He has the goal of winning this thing, not just placing and he has the game to go along with it," BCS boys golf head coach Joel Van Ryn said.
Knowles begins his state title quest at 8:45 a.m. off the first tee Tuesday. Saint Stephen's boys team is also competing, starting at 8 a.m. off No. 10.