3-6-10 “Ken Green Just Keeps Moving Forward” (CT-Post)
“Ken Green Just Keeps Moving Forward”
3-6-10, by Chris Elsberry, CT-POST
One step forward. Two steps back. Sometimes it’s even 3 or 4 steps back but each time, Ken Green gathers himself and keeps moving forward. Forever forward. He keeps looking ahead because he refuses to look back. That’s the past. His eyes are focused on one thing, the future.
The former Danbury resident and 5-time PGA Tour winner is trying to do something that no one else has ever done — become the first player to compete on the Champions Tour on a prosthetic leg. Last June, returning from a tournament in Texas, Green’s RV blew a tire near Jackson, Miss., and crashed, killing Green’s brother, his girlfriend and his dog. Green lived but lost his right leg just below the knee.
He has spent these last 9 months defying the odds, learning how to play golf again. Everything is different. The swing. The stance. The results.
But the determination that burns inside the 51-year- old is more than enough to make up for whatever adjustments have to be made in his game.
“You have to keep trying. If you don’t keep fighting and keep playing, how are you going to improve? How are you going to get better?” Green said last week by phone from his West Palm Beach, Fla., home. “If you make a fool of yourself, you do, but you’ve got to keep fighting. And I’m not ready … my brain’s not ready to say quit, so I won’t do it. I can’t do it.”
He can’t because Green made a promise. He promised that Billy Green and Jeannie Hodgin and Nip didn’t die in vain.
He wants to show the world that this can be done, that you can return to professional golf with an artificial leg.
And each day he fights through the pain in his stump and swings the club is one day closer to getting back on Tour.
Actually, he’s already has been back. In late February, Green and his good friend and caddy, Craig Thomas, played in a 2-day Treasure Coast Senior tour event in Jupiter, Fla., and last Tuesday, Green played one round in the Sunbelt Senior Tour event at the Rees Jones course at the Breakers Country Club.
In brutal conditions (wind gusts were 40 miles an hour and temperatures were in the low 50s), Green shot an 8-over-par 80 over the 6,670-yard, par-72 course. However, because of the pain in his right leg, he was unable to continue and withdrew during the 2nd round on Wednesday.
“I’m trying to look at the positives of it, but it’s tricky because I literally couldn’t make a golf swing out there,” Green said “The weather was just brutal. When the leg doesn’t work and it’s cold and windy, you just don’t make a turn and without a shoulder turn it’s hard to play golf unless you’re God. You’ve got to have a shoulder turn.”
Still, there are hopeful signs. Green says that he’s hitting his driver on the fly about 245 yards off the tee, an amazing stat when you think that before the accident, his best efforts were around 270 yards.
“So, if I can get 10 or 15 more (yards) back, then I’m literally where I was before, it’s just a question of bringing the consistency back,” he said. “Besides the physical difficulties, like having to come up with a new golf swing that you’re trying to put into professional play immediately. It’s not an easy task. But realistically, where we’ve come and where we are is actually very good. I know I’m pressing. I’m playing way earlier than I should be, so when you put all the facts together you’ve got to say, `Hey, this is pretty good. You’ve come a long way.’ I’m actually starting to get a little distance back and starting to his some more quality shots.”
Because of that, Green is not only playing in some of these smaller Senior events in Florida to see where his game stands but he’s also made the commitment to return to the Champions Tour for the first time since his accident on April 23-25 in the Liberty Legends of Golf event in Savannah, Ga., with partner Mike Reid [ see http://tinyurl.com/yhkx4ur ].
“I have committed to it and I’ve got to …it wouldn’t be fair to Mike, I’ve got to make a decision in a week or two whether I’m definitely going to play. He knows that we’re probably not going to be competitive, unless he goes on a run because I don’t know how many birdies I could make,” Green said.
“I do believe I’ll be ready to play with him. That’s my hope and that’s my goal. I can’t tell you how excited I am about playing and also how petrified I am. I don’t want to go there and make an absolute fool of myself. That scares the hell out of me. But people are going to be interested and wondering …so it’s something we’re going to have to keep working.”
And going forward.