3-25-10: “Green Has Setback in Comeback Attempt (Major-Med. Exemption Denied)”
March 25, 2010, by Larry Dorman, The New York Times
The comeback effort of the professional golfer Ken Green was dealt another blow Tuesday when he learned that his request for a major medical exemption on the Champions Tour had been denied. Green, 51, whose right leg was amputated last June after his motor home crashed following a Champions Tour event, had been hoping he would be restored to the status he had on the tour before the accident.
During the months of work he has put into rehabilitation from multiple operations to his leg, ankle and head, Green has battled physical setbacks while mourning the deaths of his brother and his girlfriend in the crash and the death of his son in January from an accidental overdose.
“I was just asking basically for the year that I’ve lost,” said Green, a 5-time winner on the PGA Tour whose limited status on the Champions Tour was in the career victories category, which is open to the winners of at least 2 tour events for a 24-month period after their 50th birthday. “I had played for 11 months before the accident and was just asking that the 13 remaining months would be given back to me when I’m able to play again.”
The Champions Tour regulations do not allow for such an exemption, said Mike Stevens, the tour’s president. He added that the tour’s major medical exemption is open only to players in the categories of top 30 money winners from the previous season and winners from the current year. Because the policy board refused to extend the exemption to Green, his current status on the tour will expire on July 23, his 52nd birthday. “They’re basically, and I don’t mean this as a pun, cutting my foot right out from under me,” Green said. “I’m baffled by it.”
Stevens, whom Green said had lobbied on his behalf with the board, said that the Champions Tour regulations for eligibility and field makeup are “a little confusing.” For example, he said, the term “major medical” is often thought to refer to the severity of the injury or condition of a player, but it actually refers to a player’s eligibility status. While no one would confuse the devastating nature of Green’s injuries with the usual array of hip- and knee-replacement procedures that generally receive major medical exemptions on the Champions circuit, it was considered in the same vein, Stevens said.
“The injury could be anything that denies him the ability to play golf,” Stevens said, “whether an accident like Ken’s, or a knee problem, a shoulder problem, a back problem, anything the player submits as documentation that he is unable to play. They are submitted for major medical and reviewed and either granted or denied.”
The tour also must consider potential legal challenges that could accompany any change in a regulation affecting a player’s eligibility, Stevens said, particularly when fields are limited to a maximum of 81 players. “There are a lot of cases in the past where a player that was, like Ken, not fully exempt and has submitted a major medical request,” Stevens said. “And their request was denied. We looked at this in every which way you can. “Obviously, it’s tragic what happened to Ken. But when you look at changing the major medical category for a nonexempt player, the ramifications it has for field makeup are incredible.”
Stevens said he understood Green’s disappointment with the decision. He said when he called him to give him the news, and Green told him he had the flu, he wanted to wait to call him back when he felt better. “The decision on Ken wasn’t the one he wanted,” Stevens said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving Ken Green on the outside.” Stevens added: “I want him to get back out with the players. I think he needs to get back with his friends to help him in the total recovery process.”
Green said he appreciated the thought and the efforts that some Champions Tour players have made in calling sponsors to get them to consider him for exemptions.
“I understand it,” he said. “I know a lot of tournaments would be happy to let me play. But I wasn’t asking for anything I didn’t already have. “It’s not like I said: ‘Hey, I’m missing a leg. Besides everything else, can you give me an extra year ’cause I’m missing a leg?’ I wasn’t looking for anything more than I already had.”
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You can reach Tim Finchem via the PGA Tour “Contact Us” website:
…Or, sent a paper note to Tim Finchem as well at this address:
Tim Finchem, Commissioner
PGA TOUR, 100 PGA TOUR Blvd.
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 (904) 285-3700
( From http://www.pgatour.com/company/contactus.html )
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3-25-10: “Ken Green Denied His Major Medical Exemption by The Tour”
By Jeff Palopoli, GolfWeek Blog, March 25, 2010
Earlier this week Ken Green announced on his blog that the major medical exemption he’d applied for has finally been turned down by the Tour. “I’m disgusted with the Tour for their decision on this issue. I’m just numb right now.” Green said. Making a bad week even worse, earlier in the week Green received the autopsy results for his son, Hunter, who passed away back in January of this year. The results showed a mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs as the cause of his death.
When I talked to Green about a month ago he seemed positive about receiving his exemption, saying “I personally feel this is a no brainer and have only asked for what I had already earned.” I think most people would have to agree that it was a “no brainer”, but apparently not.
This decision is happening on the tails of other bad press the Tour and Tim Finchem have already received this week for giving Steve Elkington special treatment in getting sponsor exemptions by Finchem reaching out to tournaments on Elkington’s behalf.
There has been no official announcement from the PGA Tour as to why it was turned down. Ryan Ballengee from Waggleroom ( http://www.waggleroom.com ) has reached out to the Tour in the hopes of getting a response and I’m sure we’ll get updated if he gets a response. I’ve also dropped Ken a line and asked if he could elaborate on their decision and get his reaction. So stay tuned. In the meantime, make sure to tune in and watch Ken play with Mike Reid in the Champions Tour Legends of Golf April 23-25 (Savannah GA).
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3-26-10: “I Felt Like I Had My Throat Slit”
Rick Arnett, Avidgolfer.com
Golfweek’s Jeff Rude reports the Champions Tour PAC and Policy Board made a huge PR mistake by not granting hard-luck story Ken Green an exemption when/if he returns from his horrific RV accident. The Champions Tour is supposedly the ultimate feel-good gathering but has become a closed (minded), entitled annuity for players allowing very few special exemptions while pouring money in players’ wallets with no cut tournaments. For a tour that screams for attention and relevance, this is a dumb, petty, shortsided move, for this could’ve been a great human interest story. Funny, ’cause I like the guys on that tour, but their entitlement thinking is pretty damn sorry. It’s not like they’re playing for anything important or career defining.
Ken Green, whose lower right leg was amputated after a fatal automobile accident last June, said he “felt like I had my throat slit” upon learning the Champions Tour Policy Board denied his request for a major medical extension during meetings March 22-23 in Orlando, Fla.
“The disappointment is pretty strong,” said Green, 51, who had 13 months left of conditional exempt status through the career-victory category at the time of the accident. “I don’t know if I was putting too much on coming back in golf as a coping mechanism or what.”
Though the Tour’s Player Advisory Council previously had turned him down, Green said he had held out hope that the board “would do the right thing.” He said he would have received the extension under Tour regulations had he been fully instead of partially exempt. Now the 5-time PGA Tour winner says he plans to write tournaments for sponsor exemptions when he’s ready to play. Green, who walks with a prosthetic right leg, says he’s mindful he’ll get into “some” tournaments on sponsor invites because of his unique story.
“But who wants to beg every week?” he said. “I just wanted something I earned. I don’t understand what they were thinking. I could probably only play one year, anyway; that’s it. I’d never make the top 30 and stay on the Champions Tour.”
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3-26-10: “Tour Insider: Lists, Letters and Lessons”
by Rex Hoggard, Senior Writer, The Golf Channel
‘Missed Cut’ – CHAMPIONS TOUR
…News Wednesday (3-24-10) that the over-50 set had turned down Ken Green’s request for a major medical exemption was curious. Green, who lost the lower portion of his right leg in a car accident last June, has been attempting a comeback to professional golf since he was released from the hospital and he had 13 months of exempt status through the career-victory category at the time of the accident.
“I just wanted something I earned. I don’t understand what they were thinking. I could probably only play one year, anyway; that’s it. I’d never make the top 30 and stay on the Champions Tour,” Green told Golfweek.
All of which reminds us of a quote from former Tour player Dan Olsen a few years ago, “Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) is a country club for bad lawyers.” And bad decisions it would seem.
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FROM THE ROUGH…
“Tour Denies Ken Green’s Medical Exemption, But is There a Silver Lining?”
Posted by Jonathan Wall on 3/26/2010
Ken Green has experienced more pain and suffering in the last 10 months than 20 people go through in an entire lifetime. After losing his brother, girlfriend and dog in a horrific RV accident last June, Green watched as another member of his family, his son, Joseph, died of an accidental drug overdose in his dorm room on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Green, who lost his right leg in the RV accident, has been trying to mount a comeback to golf ever since.
Fighting through the pain of learning to play golf with a prosthetic leg, Green appeared to be on track to get a medical exemption from the Champions Tour. That was until he learned yesterday evening that the tour had denied his request.
Here’s what Green had to say about the matter on his blog:
“So much for that warm snuggly feeling I had that the right thing would be done. The PAC (player advisory council) and board have both rejected my request. The only thing left for me to do is sue, and I refuse to do that. Even though Mr. Finchem has no issue throwing the Tour’s money away on bad lawsuits that they are going to lose (I’ve been told my case is terrific - this time around I will not because it revolves around me and not ALL GOLFERS.”
The decision really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and rightly so. Green, who was currently playing golf on an 11 month limited exemption before the wreck, had requested the tour grant him an additional 13 months to make up for the time he missed due to injury.
Seems like an open and shut situation to me. But the tour had other ideas regarding the matter. It’s easy to get red-faced about their decision until you hear Tour president, Mike Stevens, give his take on the matter. “There are a lot of cases in the past where a player that was, like Ken, not fully exempt and has submitted a major medical request,” Stevens told the New York Times. “And their request was denied. We looked at this in every which way you can. Obviously, it’s tragic what happened to Ken. But when you look at changing the major medical category for a nonexempt player, the ramifications it has for field makeup are incredible.”
It’s good to hear the tour exhausted every avenue to get Green an extension; it just looks like they saw the appeal as water behind a dam that, if broken, could have caused a flood of other requests for medical exemptions in the future. In other words, they weren’t ready to set a new precedent for future players. Fair enough.
With Green’s current exemption set to expire in July, one can only hope that the tour and Green can come to some sort of amicable agreement that satisfies both parties. There’s still time to make this a feel-good story.
March 27, 2010 “Down One Brother, One Lover, One Leg”
From Sports Business Analyst Rick Horrow:
“Doing the right thing in sports is often much more difficult to accomplish than a tournament-winning 14-foot putt or a March Madness buzzer-beater.
On Friday, golf’s Champions Tour announced that professional golfer Ken Green, whose world was turned upside down last June when he lost his brother, his girlfriend, and his right leg to a freak motor home crash, was denied a request for a major medical exemption to gain back the year of eligibility he had lost while mourning his family and learning to walk – and play – on a prosthetic. Champions Tour brass claimed the exemption was only available to players in the top 30 money winners from the previous season and tournament winners from the current year – clearly heights Green hadn’t yet been able to achieve down one brother, one lover, one leg.”
(Sports Business Analyst Rick Horrow joins CNN’s Don Lemon Sunday at 6:45pm)
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3-28-10, “Golf’s Shame Over Green”
By James Corrigan, The UK Independent
Article link (independent.co.uk): http://tinyurl.com/y8kxd2f
A certain individual has made this a rather uncertain time for American golf. What it does not need is any more negative publicity. Positive stories, anyone? Step forward Ken Green, with your prosthetic limb and all your inspirational possibilities. Last June, the former Ryder Cup player lost his partner and his brother in a car crash.
Green was the lucky one, although his own injuries meant him losing his lower right leg. It has a been slow and painful road since, during which further emotional devastation has hit with the death of his 21-year-old son from an accidental overdose. The light at the end of a seemingly never-ending tunnel was his 2-year seniors exemption for winning more than 2 events on the US Tour proper. Green had only used up 11 months when tragedy struck, so still had 13 to go. The only things stopping him in a quest to become the Champions Tour’s first amputee were his physical and mental handicaps.
Wrong. The golfing authorities have turned down his “medical extension”, quoting some complex small-print.
Green has a few months until his 2 years run out – and then he’s on his own. He will have to write to sponsors to gain invites, basically offering himself up as a freak show. All because of golf’s continued obsession with its precious rules.
How obscene. The officials are prepared to ignore their regulations in regards of Tiger Woods and bringing the tour into disrepute. But when it comes to a member really in need of a little leeway they return to being belligerence in blazers.
Green is crushed. For the first time he must face the reality of the ambitions which drove him. “Maybe I was putting too much on coming back in golf as a coping mechanism,” he wonders. Yes, well done, American golf. But then, at least you’ll soon have that cash-cow called Tiger back. That’s all that matters, isn’t it?
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3-31-10: “Can We Get a New Ruling on a Ruling?”
Tees2Greens.com Blog, by Cathy Erickson on Mar. 31, 2010
My mind has been struggling to comprehend the meaning and appropriateness of rules lately as I have been following the story of Ken Green. Green, a current Champions Tour player and 5-time winner on the PGA Tour was in a terrible accident last year which resulted in the amputation of his lower right leg. More tragic was the death of his brother, girlfriend, and dog in this same accident.
Green’s journey from his Tour beginnings until now make for an interesting read. From being called golf’s “bad boy” or “Daly before there was a Daly”, Green admits that although he may have been controversial, he wouldn’t change much from back then. He seems to be one of those “you either like him or you don’t” kind of guys. And I’ll admit, had I known and followed him back in his early Tour days I’d probably not be a fan… I struggle with those who seem cocky or brazen and (ironically) think the rules don’t apply to them. And from what I’ve read, that is often the picture painted of Ken Green, PGA Tour Professional.
As many Tour professionals do, Green followed his on-course successes with a slow decent into marginal play and some bad choices. According to several articles and stories I’ve read, I learned that he fell victim to lack of confidence in his game and maybe in his life, resulting in a period of depression.
But Green decided to work on those challenges and his game improved. Upon turning 50, he was allowed “limited status” on the Champions Tour for 24 months because he had at least 2 PGA Tour wins. The “status” on all the Tours can be confusing – depending on accomplishments & achievements players may have a higher priority than others… which can mean the difference between playing and not playing. With Green not having “full status”, he is not extended the same opportunities as other players… one of those being approved for a medical waiver. At the time of his accident, he was 11 months into his 24 month eligibility. It has been almost a year since the accident and he has made it his main goal to play professional golf again. It hasn’t been easy, but he’s not giving up on golf.
But it appears golf is giving up on him. When Green asked the Tour if he could stop his 24-month clock at the time of his accident and start it again (giving him 13 months to play) when he was able to, the Tour denied it. Their reason was that players on “limited status” are not able to get medical exemptions. The level of injury is irrelevant and giving Green approval would open the door to countless other players who were denied based on that same limited status.
So the clock currently ticks and Green has until July 23 before his limited status is up. It’s not that Green doesn’t have options. He can request exemptions from sponsors, and I imagine some would be thrilled to have Green in their event. But Green has indicated that right now it’s about trying to get the Tour to give him the time he believes he’s entitled to, and the idea of begging for a spot to play isn’t very appealing. He can also sue, and although he as indicated on his blog that he isn’t interested in doing that now, there are folks encouraging him to reconsider.
After reading about all of this, my mind keeps wondering, can a better rule be made? Can there be some consideration for this level of tragedy? I want to believe there can be. Of course my argumentative brain says, where does the line get drawn? What about the guy that has knee surgery? Or throws his back out? Do all of their clocks stop, too? How many eligible players would be out there if the rule was changed?
This is what is causing Champion Tour president Mike Stevens great concern, and it appears that this is the main reason for Green’s denial. Couldn’t the Tour look at giving different “clocks” to different injuries? A designated stop time for the type of injury that is approved and then it starts again even if the player isn’t ready?
I don’t know if there is a right answer, but my heart tells me that Ken Green deserves his 13 months. Laws, policies, and rules at all levels of government, private business, and the sporting world are reviewed and updated all the time. If there is ever a time to look at something from a new perspective, I think now is the time. My wish is that the PGA Tour will consider revising their rules and find some fairness in what was an unfair and tragic twist of fate for Ken Green…and for anyone else that might come upon such an unfortunate set of circumstances.
Golf is about giving back, not taking away…I hope they give Ken Green another chance.
If you want to read what I read, check out these links:
New York Times Article 3-26-10…
Jeff Palpoli’s blog – he interviewed Ken Green…
Jay Busbee’s Devil Ball Golf Blog…
Ken’s Web Page: http://www.kengreenscomeback.com
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“Ken Green Deserves Better”
4-6-10, by Brian Koonz, Danbury News-Times
As America watched another Tiger Woods mea culpa Monday, former Danbury resident Ken Green took a deep breath and scratched his head. While the No. 1 golfer in the world “healed” in front of the TV cameras — a fraud at best, a cheater at worst — an older man reflected on the prosthetic right leg that gives him the balance (and the blessing) to swing a golf club.
It’s been 10 months since Green’s horrible RV accident in Mississippi, the asphalt nightmare that took the life of his brother, Billy; his girlfriend, Jeanne; his dog, Nip; and the career that paid the bills and made him whole. From the moment Green woke up with a broken body in the hospital last June, he was committed to returning to the Champions Tour for professional golfers 50 and older.
After all, as a 5-time PGA Tour winner, Green had earned his 24-month playing exemption on the Champions Tour, a privilege whose clock started ticking in July 2008. The way Green figures it, he had played only 11 months before his accident. He believes he’s entitled to another 13 months to round out the 2-year playing exemption.
Green is exactly right, of course. Unless you ask Champions Tour President Mike Stevens and his bosses at the PGA Tour. The way the PGA Tour sees things, the clock started running on Ken Green’s playing exemption in July 2008, and it will stop ticking in July 2010.
That’s not fair.
The Champions Tour should have pressed the button on Green’s stopwatch the moment his RV flew off the road last summer. To read more about Ken Green — and the prestigious award he will receive tonight — check out my “Take on Life” column on Wednesday.
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“Ken Green: ‘I’ve lost everybody on the planet I loved’”
4-7-10, by Brian Koonz, Danbury News-Times
A day after I wrote a column about former Danbury resident and pro golfer Ken Green being scorned by the PGA Tour, Green and I finally had a chance to talk Wednesday by telephone.
By the time I finished my interview with the 51-year-old Green, I was shaking my head.
Two weeks ago, the Champions Tour rejected Green’s petition for a major medical exemption in the aftermath of last summer’s awful RV accident that took his brother, girlfriend, pet dog, and ultimately, his right leg.
A few months later, in January, Green lost his 21-year-old son, Hunter, who died suddenly after ingesting a toxic mix of drugs and alcohol.
Understand, Green isn’t asking for a favor from the Champions Tour. He is only asking for what is rightfully his.
After earning a 24-month playing exemption on the Champions Tour as a five-time PGA Tour winner, Green wants the remaining 13 months he had left after his accident. Green was 11 months into the Champions Tour last June, you see, when his RV tumbled off the road in Mississippi. He deserves the remaining 13 months to see if he can bring this comeback home.
In no uncertain terms, the Champions Tour told Green no way. The clock started ticking in July 2008 and it will stop ticking in July 2010.
“They told me they tried to keep the emotion out of their decision,” Green said. “Really? Are you kidding me? I’ve lost everybody on the planet I loved. The worst thing is — the thing that really annoys me — is the way they’re spinning it. They just assume I’m going to get (sponsor) exemptions. I hope I am, but let’s be real: The only reason I’m going to get any exemptions is because of the emotion.”
Green said he will address the exemption issue tonight in Augusta, Ga., when he shares the Ben Hogan Award with Tom Watson. The award is given by the Golf Writers Association of America to golfers who remain active in the sport despite a physical handicap or serious illness, according to the GWAA.
“I will say something tonight and I’ll write something in my blog, but beyond that, there isn’t much I can do,” Green said.
According to Green, the Champions Tour and the PGA Tour didn’t take into account that he’s only physically able to play 12 or 13 events a year, not the full Champions Tour schedule.
“I’ve got to go through a whole new learning process and I’m still fighting terrible nerve pain, which could last up to two years the doctors say,” Green said.
“Think about it: I’m not eligible for 7 (Champions Tour) events because they’re majors and another 5 courses I can’t play because of the hills,” Green said. “Basically, a year on the tour for me is half a year for everybody else.”
Green admits he may not be able to finish what he started on the Champions Tour, even if officials reverse their decision, which doesn’t seem likely. Even so, Green should be able to find out — on his own terms — if this comeback has an improbable, magical finish.
“I just want a chance,” Green said. “If I can’t do it, I’m willing to walk away.”