3-16-10: NaplesNews Article & VIDEO (Coors)!
“Ken Green Gives Inspiration with Finish at Coors Light Open”
3-16-10, Greg Hardwig – NaplesNews.com
NAPLES: Ken Green tapped in on No. 9 to finish 36 holes at the Coors Light Open on Sunday at Fort Myers Country Club. There was a round of applause from the nearby 18th green. A handful of fans mingled with the 51-year-old, who signed autographs and posed for pictures.
25 years ago, when Green was in the prime of a PGA Tour career that included 5 wins and a 1989 Ryder Cup appearance, that scene may never have happened. Not like this one, anyway.
Last June’s horrific recreational vehicle accident that cost Green his girlfriend, brother, dog and part of his lower right leg changed all of that. Changed everything but his desire to play golf. The Coors Light Open gave him that opportunity, a tournament on a 6,400-yard layout that allowed carts.
“Ken Green and inspiration were not exactly synonymous,” said Green, known for his boisterous behavior on the PGA Tour that included club-throwing and saying just about whatever he felt, whenever he felt like it. “It’s a wonderful feeling when the people that you don’t know come up and just say that you’re really giving them hope and joy. As men, we don’t like to (admit) that it hits us, but it does. It’s a great feeling when that many people care.”
Saturday, he had 3 birdies, 2 bogeys and a double-bogey, on the 17th hole, to shoot a 2-over-par 73. Sunday wasn’t as good, with Green struggling to a 77 as he dealt with ongoing pain in his right leg. He tied for 39th, beating three of the 47 professionals.
“It wasn’t a very fun day, but that happens,” Green said. “I’m happy. I finished. I did break 80, and I don’t think I finished last, so I’m happy. It’s a good start. Baby steps are baby steps. There’s a reason they came up with that saying. That’s what I have to do.” “He’s not bashful to speak his mind,” said Rich Lamb, the Coors Light Open’s tournament director. “It was a pleasure to have him. It’s just an inspiration.”
Last month, Green had played in a 2-person event with his friend, Craig Thomas, who also played in the Coors and recommended that event to Green. Two weeks ago, battling 50-degree temperatures and 40 mph winds, Green withdrew after shooting an 80 in the first round of a Sunbelt Senior Tour event in West Palm Beach, where the Danbury, Conn., native now lives.
While Green is playing with a prosthetic leg, he’s still recovering from some of the other injuries — a broken eye socket, lost tooth, and a scar on his head — suffered in the accident after being thrown through the windshield.
“I want you to all know that for the first time I really have seen that my dream is GOING to happen,” Green wrote on his blog on his site http://www.kengreenscomeback.com on Monday. “The scores don’t matter, it’s what and how that shows me whether I’m going to reach these goals. I absolutely saw Golf SHOTS. There is still a long road ahead, but we have finally found the road.”
Green wrote that his left ankle is not healing properly, and he plans to have an MRI this week. But he saw enough that he plans on playing with Mike Reid in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf from April 23-25.
“This was actually going to determine whether I played with Mike in the Legends,” Green said Sunday. “I played enough quality shots that I’m definitely going to play with him.”
That, and his putting was still strong.
“He’s got that little short putter, and he was rolling it today,” said Dustin Rigsdon, a 28-year-old who was one of Green’s playing partners and called him a legend.
“The putter is still with me. I haven’t lost that,” said Green, who won $3.7 million on the PGA Tour, and $146,817 in 18 Champions Tour events in 2008 and 2009. “The big guy was kind enough to leave that for me.”
One of the pieces from Green’s life that he’s determined to put back together.