Friend Jack Garamella on KG’s Rnd2 74 at Dick’s/Endicott
From: Jack Garamella Sunday, June 27, 2010 1:38PM
Subj: Ken’s 2nd Round at Endicott
I had the privilege and I mean that sincerely of walking with KG during round 2 at Endicott. I am writing this with tears of frustration in my eyes because I have just learned that Ken had to withdraw and not play the 3rd round. Pass this on to all – our man is going to make it. There is zero doubt on this point. Let me give you a synopsis of what I saw.
For anyone who has not been to the BC Open or to the Dick’s Sporting Goods events – they are precious. They are conducted on a well groomed course that was built in the 20’s for the employees of the Endicott-Johnson Company. Gently rolling and listed at 6,975, the course plays every bit of that with the added attraction of tree lined fairways and multiple ponds that come into play. The people are thrilled to have the Champions Tour and thank everyone for attending. Parking next to the course is $5 as is a Grilled Chicken Spiedie that is tasty and does not lack in the chicken department. How can a fan go wrong?
After his frustrating round one, which he described to me as being off by inches, not feet, KG had a sleepless night because of the electric pain that simply will not subside. When I saw him on the putting green before the round, his face was beet red and he looked exhausted. So much so that I blurted out, “What’s with you?” He explained that he slept 5 minutes all night and was going to try to figure out how to get it done in the 20 minutes that he had left til tee time. At first his putting was very shaky. But he was determined and just before he picked ‘em up to head for the tee, he seemed to have the stroke under control. He introduced me to Jamie & Joe, 2 members with whom he had played in the Pro-Am on Wednesday. They were now Ken Green disciples. They loved the man.
The first thing that was obvious was the KG has progressed from those initial 230 yard drives, when he first got back to playing, to serious 275 yard (on level holes) boomers that kept him in position on most holes. The fairways were narrow. He hit only one tee-ball that missed the fairway on the fly – and that one not by a lot. He did continue to suffer the “2 inch” curse in that a few balls ran, after hitting well on the fairway, into the 2nd cut literally by 2 inches. But just enough to make the 2nd shot one that was difficult to control out of the rough. So his drives were definitely in the “Good” category for distance & placement. When he needed to turn it over to get a little more length, he did so.
The irons were more of a problem. He has trouble hitting down on the ball as much as the other pros which results in balls that run out too much. He was past the pin more frequently than not, again suffering from the “2 inch” curse in that the ball would run through the 4 foot collar and end up 2 inches into the heavy stuff that surrounded the collar. Again that made it tough to knock it in if he was close or control the distance if he was not. The lack of spin also put him at the mercy of the slopes of the green in that the ball would land where it was supposed to and instead of taking one hop and then stopping it would trickle off to the side or back to the front, again ending up just 2 inches into the heavy rough despite hitting within a short distance of the pin. This problem was the cause of 2 of the 3 bogeys on his 1st nine. On the 3rd one, he was blocked by a large tree on a very short par 4 dogleg right. He flew the tree but missed the green by 3 feet and was thrown down an embankment on the short side.
As the round progressed, he got more and more confident with the flat stick. At first he was blowing the ball by the hole 4-5 feet. Mercifully he was making the comebackers which clearly gave him confidence both on the green and for the rest of his game. No lip outs, but several putts which scared the hole and just slid by. On the back side with the poa greens growing as they do, he left 2 birdie attempts 2 or 3 inches short dead on line. So the putting is in the “he knows that this is one of his strengths” category.
What was inspirational was his intestinal fortitude. At least 3 times he stopped in mid-swing (a la Tiger) because he got zapped by a thunderbolt of pain. He walked away, regrouped and hit an excellent shot each time. The fans were extremely appreciative. They gave him a warm round of applause no matter what he did. On the 9th and the 18th, where all the tents and boxes surrounded the green he got well deserved ovations.
The man is on the cusp of scoring the way he wants to. If he can find the cause of the multiple electrocutions that he has to suffer during each round, he will be able to work on his game, particularly when the ball is well below his feet or when he has an awkward stance, so that he can overcome the bad bounces that inevitably occur when you play this crazy game. His 1-under on the longer front side (which was his back side as he started on 10) despite being fall-down tired and in obvious pain made one proud to be a Ken Green supporter. The good humor with which he answered questions posed by the gallery and his patience in giving autographs until the last person who wanted one, left everyone with smiles. Sadly today he could not overcome the pain. I am positive that he will find the medical answer and then perform at a level that will make us all proud. I remind myself that this very week just 1 year ago, I was with Ken in the University of Mississippi Medical Center, calling for a refill the moment his morphine drip ran out. I watched as the doctor removed glass from his eyelid 3.5 weeks after the accident because he was in such pain that it was only then that he felt it. At that point he did not even know the extent of the damage to his left ankle because the right leg screamed day and night. So to be competing at the highest level just 1 year later is a testament to his will, his love of the game, his willingness to put up with mind-numbing pain to do what he was born to do.
KEN, THANK YOU FOR YOUR EFFORT. You are on a new journey in your life that I and all your friends are humbled to share with you. We salute you.
With admiration and love,