Bill Haas returns to golf this week. (Chris Carlson/AP file photo)

The journey back to golf, his chosen profession, might not have been a long one, but it has been difficult for Bill Haas.

Ready or not, the golfer, who was injured in a Feb. 15 crash in which a friend was killed, will play in the Valspar Championship this week. Physically, he has recovered from a deep bruise on his left leg and soreness in his right ankle, injuries he suffered when he was a passenger in car driven by Mark Gibello that clipped another car and struck a pole near Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. His emotions are another story and have led him to talk with a therapist as well as family and friends.

“I don’t know that I won’t have recurring images and thoughts and feelings about that night,” he told the Associated Press in his first interview since the accident. “Why was he taken and I wasn’t? I ask, ‘Why?’ all the time. From the people who have reached out to me and the advice I’ve been given, you can’t ask, ‘Why?’ in life. Life happens in ways you can’t explain. There’s no point in asking. It won’t solve anything, and it only brings more questions.”

Haas was on the West Coast to play in the Genesis Open and was staying with Gibello and his family. He and Gibello, a friend of his swing coach Bill Harmon, had played golf the previous weekend. Gibello was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which also involved actor Luke Wilson, who was not seriously injured and was hailed as a hero for helping free a victim, and an unidentified woman. After being briefly hospitalized, he withdrew from the tournament and returned to his Greenville, S.C., home.

“There’s not many templates to go by on something like this,” Haas said. “I was in a state of shock, disbelief. It was a tragic event, traumatic. I’m still unsure how to handle it. I keep going back to focusing on the Gibello family.”

Haas planned to leave Monday night for the Valspar tournament in Palm Harbor, Fla.

“The amount of love and support and outreach I got from my peers and friends has been amazing,” he said. “At the same time, a friend of mine is not here anymore. . . . There’s just no real way to explain life, why it happens and how it happens. You can’t take tomorrow for granted. You have to enjoy today and prepare for tomorrow. All that said, I still feel like I have to go compete. I can’t just say golf doesn’t matter. That’s what I do. I think that’s what Mark would want.

“He was a golf fan. He loved golf. He would want me to care about how I play.”

And the focus should not be on him.

“This has got to be about golf and the Gibello family.”

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