KG’s Champions Comeback: Apr23-25 ‘Legends of Golf’, KG & Radar Reid shoot 67-66-71 in Savannah
First played in 1978, the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf is credited with launching the Champions Tour for players over age 50 in 1980. In 2010, Liberty Mutual will celebrate its 31st consecutive year as the event’s title sponsor. This year’s tournament will be held April 19-25 and will feature a $2.7 million purse.
Sunday 4-25-10: GREAT RETURN, KG, and Thank You Mike Reid – you are one class act, as well as being a Great Player. What a remarkable return to the Champions Tour it was for our man KG. …Ken & Mike finished 67-66-71 = 204 -12 T26.
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KG’s COMMENTS AVOUT LEGENDS/SAVANNAH FROM HIS BLOG #49:
The Aftermath… Savannah didn’t burn this time!!!
It’s Monday, the day after Savannah, here comes Green.
The past 3 days have been the absolute greatest days of my golfing life.
Friday was the most amazing day my life has seen to this day. I was filled with anxiety, nerves, joy, fear, excitement, friendship, love, pain, skill, and any other emotion I can’t think of at the moment. I’m thrilled that I hit the ball solid off the first tee and then proceeded to play a rather pathetic 8 holes of golf that was purely, “I’m so nervous I can’t play golf“.
That being said, I was having a blast. Mark Omeara, Nick Price (they won, they owe me a cut for not hitting them and knocking them out of the event), and my partner Mike Reid were just complete pros and human beings, as they inspired me to fight on no matter what I did.
Then out of no where I whacked this 6-iron from the rough (me & fairways were not getting along) on the green and the next 10 holes were actually real golf. I mean pro golf. I was stunned and shocked.
When done and replaying the round, I realized that I can do this again. I just need some time to make the changes to my swing that my friend and teacher of 3 decades [Peter Kostis] has me doing.
I’m so excited I can’t even explain it to you properly. My skipping from point to point may show that by itself, as I make little sense.
My much older and almost ancient sister did a great job caddying and it was just awesome to have her with me at that time. She is without a doubt the best person in the Green family – small family though.
Anyway, I wish everyone could have experienced that feeling on the first tee – I was fractions away from loosing my marbles. The feeling I had when I made my first birdie were just stupid awesome, but just WOW.
My hope is to compete in the Dicks Sporting Goods in late June, that will give me 6 weeks to hopefully get a bit healthier and then get these swing changes down a bit.
I missed my Jeanne so much this week – those emotions were hard to keep inside me.
The nut jobs from the health trailer did a great job keeping my real ankle from falling apart, I was taped like that King Tut nut guy…
Damn, it was fun. People were just fantastic and I will talk to you soon.
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Terrific article by David Whitley that is a fitting wrap up and salute to KG’s amazing return to the Champions Tour with Mike Reid at the “Legends of Golf” in Savannah, April 23-25, 2010…
Sunday 4-25-10: “Ken Green: Survivor, Hero, Golfer”
By David Whitley, National Columnist
Caption: “He’s been rebuilding his swing with the help of CBS golf analyst Peter Kostis. It’s like Eric Clapton having to learn to play the guitar with his left hand. And then trying to perform Layla in front of 10,000 paying customers.”
Excerpts: . . . The rest of us can only rub our eyes in amazement. Green & Mike Reid tied for 26th in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. They finished ahead of players like Curtis Strange, Fuzzy Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw. All of whom, it should be noted, have 2 good legs. Green and Reid had 3 between them. Despite that, they shot 12-under par. It was the lowest (and only) score in competitive golf history for a man wearing a prosthetic leg. So what if he and his partner finished 16 shots behind Mark O’Meara and Nick Price? “It won’t register as a win,” Reid said, “but it’s a win.”. . . A win on the Champions Tour could never replace a brother or a son, but golf can be therapy. Something more than a search for birdies is driving Green. “Seeing not only the awkwardness, but the pain he endured this week,” Reid said. “It’s just a measure of how much he loves the game.” It’s about the only thing he hasn’t lost in the past 10 months. But put all that heartache aside. Even if Green’s knee had been bitten off by an alligator, nobody thought he’d be playing golf again so soon. “There are 1,000 different thoughts and feels you have,” Reid said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like just to invent a swing on every hole.”. . .His first few shots on Friday were screeching disasters. Then he hit a 6-iron from the rough to 15 feet – it was his first green-in-regulation since his life tumbled down that embankment. He quickly pocketed 2 birdies. “And make sure you note that I did out-drive O’Meara,” Green said. . . Doctors say it will be another year before the nerves at the bottom of Green’s knee stop crackling. Even though he used a cart, 3 straight days of golf were about 36 holes too many. “It’s a feeling I wouldn’t even want to give to my ex-wife,” Green said. “It’s a bizarre pain. But that’s my life right now.” Throw in the improvised swings, the throbbing left ankle, the anxiety, the utter improbability of it all. Cart or not, it’s safe to say no golfer has ever had to carry so much baggage. “It sucks,” Green said, “I mean, there’s no way around it.” He was just trying to be honest, not angling for sympathy. Rain and wind blew in Sunday. You try getting a decent stance with a fake leg on wet grass. What Green lacked in birdies he made up for in admirers. “You’re my hero,” one fan said. Green shook the man’s hand and limped on his way. “I have more desire and fight than I’ve had in 30 years,” he said. “I can’t tell you how desperately I want to do this.” He didn’t have to. His right shoe said it all. *end*
FULL ARTICLE: http://golf.fanhouse.com/2010/04/25/ken-green-survivor-hero-golfer
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AND THIS TERRIFIC WRAPUP BY VARTAN KUPELIAN:
4-28-10: “Winning Isn’t Everything”
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Competition is about winning and losing but there are times when the lines can be blurred and the ultimate prize isn’t necessarily what it appears to be. Nick Price & Mark O’Meara won the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf last week, and deservedly so, but nobody can say Ken Green & Mike Reid didn’t come out as winners, too. . . .
Green became the first recorded amputee to tee it up in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event at the Legends of Golf. Green & Reid finished in a tie for 26th. For Green, 51, a man determined to take however many baby steps he needs to return to the Champions Tour, it was a giant leap.
“I don’t know if I could possibly express what this has done for me personally in terms of getting hope again — I hate to say this, but getting hope for life,” Green said. “If I start talking about it, I’m probably going to end up bawling, so I’m trying to say the right things without losing it.”
Losing it? Not a chance. Green, on one good leg, has started the long walk back to where he wants to be. And then there’s Reid. What he won in Savannah isn’t measured by dollar signs. It’s measured by the standards of compassion and decency.
“For Mike to give this week for me was something I’ll never ever forget,” Green said. “He’s playing so well. If he had another player that wasn’t, quote, in the midst of trying to regroup ….”
What Reid found discovered is the level of Green’s commitment.
“I think I underestimated maybe how much he loves the game because for him to be here and from my perspective seeing not only the awkwardness, but the pain he had to deal with, it’s just a measure of how much he loves the game,” Reid said. “He inspired all of us, but I had the best seat in the house. He was not a load, believe me. I mean he was hitting a lot of good shots, great short game. I was really impressed.”
And then Reid said it all. “When you make a living at this game, you sort of like to think that you have an idea where the ball’s going to go,” he said of Green. “To have all of that erased, which in effect is what has to have happened and to reinvent everything on the fly and get out there and do what he did. “It’s not going to register as a win in the tournament, but it’s a win.”
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AND THIS ONE BY GARY D-AMATO:
4-27-10: “Green Back on Tour After 4 Deaths, Loss of Limb”
By Gary D’Amato, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
It would have been a stretch to call Ken Green a role model or an inspiration during his first incarnation as a professional golfer. He was a rebel who clashed with the PGA Tour hierarchy, a brash and sometimes crude man at odds with the game’s genteel image. He won 5 tournaments, including the 1988 Greater Milwaukee Open, but rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Green was suspended for 30 days for calling Raymond Floyd a cheater. He battled alcohol use and depression and said he considered suicide. He went through a bitter divorce and custody battle with his second wife and by 1997 reportedly was $250,000 in debt. He lost his swing and all but disappeared from golf. The game went on just fine without him.
But a horrific RV accident that took everything from Green – his girlfriend, his brother, his dog and the lower part of his right leg – has changed him in ways that make you want to stand up and cheer for him. Golf is all he has left. He is fighting enormous odds to make a comeback on the Champions Tour. Out of the wreckage has emerged a humbled man determined to rebuild his swing and his life. “I can’t tell you how desperately I want to do this,” Green said. “There’s just no other way around it. I have got to fight this. There’s something that tells me I have to do this.”
Green, 51, teamed with Mike Reid to tie for 26th place in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf on Sunday. Big deal? It was for Green, who became the first man to compete in a Tour-sanctioned event with a prosthesis. “I don’t know if I could possibly express what this has done for me personally in terms of getting hope again,” he said. “I hate to say this, but getting hope for life.”
Last June, Green was driving his recreational vehicle between Champions Tour stops when a tire blew near Hickory, Miss. He was unable to control the vehicle and ran off the road and down an embankment before hitting a tree. His brother and caddie, Bill, and girlfriend, Jean Marie Hodgin, were killed in the wreck, as was Green’s beloved German shepherd, Nip. Doctors wanted to try to save Green’s lower right leg but told him amputation would give him a better chance to play golf again. “Cut if off,” Green said, without a moment’s hesitation. He went through months of therapy and in January suffered another blow when his 21-year-old son, Hunter, died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol.
At his lowest point, he got a phone call from Reid, his partner in the 2009 Legends of Golf. Reid told Green to get his game in shape. It was just the motivation Green needed. 10 months after the accident, he showed up at the Savannah Harbor Resort and Spa in Savannah, Ga., with “no clue what was going to happen.” He and Reid shot rounds of 67, 66 and 71 in the best-ball format. Green wore 2 different size shoes – his regular size 10 on his left foot and a size 6 on his prosthesis. Admittedly nervous, he got off to a rough start and bogeyed his first two holes. But he settled down and hit some good shots.
“From my perspective, seeing not only the awkwardness but the pain he had to deal with this week, it’s just a measure of how much he loves the game,” Reid said. “I think he inspired all of us, but I had the best seat in the house. He was not a load, believe me.” Reid and Green each earned $13,500. “It’s not going to register as a win in the tournament,” Reid said. “But it’s a win.”
Green is still dealing with excruciating pain in the nerve endings in his stump, which doctors have told him could last another year. He is learning how to swing again with help from CBS analyst Peter Kostis. Balance remains an issue and he can’t handle some shots from uneven lies. But he’s determined to make a full recovery and to play again on the Champions Tour on his own one foot. “I have more desire and fight than I’ve had in 30 years,” he said.
Along the way, he’s discovering something else about himself: He has the ability to inspire people. “It’s the thought that I could give something back,” he said. “That’s obviously unusual. It’s never happened before. If it gives others hope or a smile or encouragement or inspiration or whatever words you so desire, it’s what’s going to keep me going, because I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have golf.”
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AND THIS ONE BY TOM YANTZ:
5-2-10: “Golf Helping Green Overcome Adversity”
By Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant
The tragedies slammed professional golfer Ken Green in numbing succession. First was the RV crash in June that killed his girlfriend, brother and dog and resulted in the amputation of his lower right leg. Then, 5 months later, his son Hunter was found dead in his college dorm room.
“If I didn’t have the faith I do in the big guy, I don’t think I’d be acceptable of the plan he has for me,” Green said in a recent telephone interview. “God has thrown some big asteroids at me. And basically you have two choices: You get squished or you take them on.”
Green is taking them on, and still golfing. “Golf, I can’t tell you how much I love it,” he said from his home in West Palm Beach, Fla. “The green grass, sunshine, hitting that perfect shot — everything. If I couldn’t golf and try to get back on the regular Champions Tour, I might be a dead man.”
9 days ago Green, 51, winner of 5 PGA Tour titles, was back inside the ropes again, at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf Champions team event in Savannah, Ga. He wore a prosthesis. He wasn’t scoring like a pro, “more like a 4-5 handicapper” in his first appearance on the Champions Tour since the accident.
“I’ve never been so nervous,” he said. “I didn’t want to embarrass myself.”
The Danbury native persevered. He had written on his golf shoe, attached to his prosthesis, the names of his brother William, girlfriend Jeannie, and German shepherd Nip. On the toe of his shoe he wrote “Hunter,” who died from of an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs.
Green and teammate Mike Reid tied for 26th out of 33 teams in the 54-hole tournament. “I hit a few good shots, made a couple of birdies,” Green said. “I knew my goal, which some people might think is a little crazy, of getting back to the Champions was realistic when I hit 3 great shots in the first round.” Two 5-woods and one 3-wood were struck with the kind of precision that if you shut your eyes and just listened, you knew the balls were flying far. “And straight; it was an unbelievable high,” Green said. “The rush of adrenaline. I can’t put it into words.”
When Green was in a hospital bed in Mississippi after the RV accident, doctors said they would try to save his leg. But when Green heard them say his chances at returning to golf wouldn’t be good with a repaired leg, Green said, “Cut it off.” They obliged, just below his knee. “I just lost everyone I had loved,” he said. “Golf was my salvation. With a prosthesis I knew I’d have a chance to be a pro again.” After the accident he underwent other surgeries on his legs, back and head. Every day Green experiences pain in his right leg and says he takes 15 pills a day. “For leg seizures, pain stuff,” he said. “Some days it’s hard to get out of bed because the nerves are still firing, but that part of the leg is gone.”
In March his request for a medical exemption from the Champions Tour was denied. One reason is that medical exemptions are only open to those players who have won this year or last year, or finished in the top 30 in money winnings last year. Green wasn’t in either group. “I’m a longtime pro on both tours, but basically I feel there are some poorly written loopholes in the rules,” he said. “I didn’t ask for anything that I feel I hadn’t earned or deserved.” So Green, whose playing exemption into regular Champions Tour events ends July 23, will need sponsor’s exemptions to play in tournaments after that date.
His bills continue to come, though. The estimated annual cost to pay his medical expenses is $50,000. He’s receiving help. In addition to a fundraiser last September at Ridgewood CC in Danbury, there was one in November at The Breakers course in Palm Beach, Fla. PGA Tour players also voted to donate half their earnings in tournament pro-ams this year to Green and Chris Smith, whose wife was killed in a automobile accident last year. “I can’t thank everyone enough, and those fans who’ve given me $5 or $10,000,” Green said. “When I tee it up, I’m playing for them.”
He also is playing for other amputees and those with hardships who seek someone to look up to. “I’ve gotten an enormous amount of letters and e-mails, saying I help give a boost to people’s lives,” Green said. “At the Legends, people with no arms or legs thanked me. You know what that does.” There was silence on the telephone line for a few moments as Green gathered himself. “It’s an honor to help them,” he said.
Golf instructor Peter Kostis is looking to help Green with an altered swing. “I had always faded the ball,” Green said. “Now I’m clearing my left hip out quicker to hit it right to left.” His average driving distance was 271.8 yards on the Champions Tour last year before the accident. Today he’s hitting it about 240. He hopes to gain another 15-25 yards, with a right-to-left, over-spin shot.
He plans to play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open Champions Tour event in Endicott, N.Y., June 25-27 — the same week as the Travelers Championship. “Sure I could have asked for a sponsor’s exemption for [the Travelers],” he said. “I love River Highlands. It’s my home tournament in my home state. I can’t think of anything better than to play in it. I’m not ready yet. How about next year?” After the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, Green would like to play in the Connecticut Open July 26-28 at the CC of Fairfield. He won the event in 1985 and 1992.
While talking about his comeback drive, he related a story of his German shepherd, Munch. “He’s a wonderful dog, and I respect his work ethic,” he said. “There’s one door here that he worked on, kept clawing and pawing at it. Long time, lots of effort, but he finally opened it. “I may not make it all the way back, but you know I’ll give all my body and spirit to do it. I won’t stop. The door needs to get opened.”
Those wishing do make a donation to help Green can make checks out to the Ken Green Trust Fund and mail them to Ken Green Trust Fund, 1551 Forum Place, Suite 300 E, West Palm Beach, Fla. 33401.
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AND THIS ONE BY michael FITZPATRICK:
4-27-10: “Ken Green: The Real Golf Comeback Story Of 2010”
by Michael Fitzpatrick, BleacherReport.com
Three weeks ago Tiger Woods returned from a 5-month self-imposed exile to finish fourth at the Masters. So what…big deal.
Last weekend Ken Green returned to the Champions Tour for the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf a year after having the lower portion of right leg amputated as a result of a car accident that also took the lives of his brother, his long-time girlfriend and his dog. A tragedy of this magnitude is enough to drive even the most light-hearted individual into a deep depression. Let’s just say that Green has, well, never been known as a light-hearted kind of guy. In fact, he has spent more than a decade battling inner demons on the course and depression off the course.
The first thought that came across the minds of many was that this is precisely the type of event that could drive Green into the darkest depths of despair. But instead of heading down that dark road most expected him to travel, Green decided to head in the opposite direction with the game of golf guiding his way. Green completely engrossed himself in his rehabilitation with the intention of one day returning to the Champions Tour.
Aside from re-discovering his love for the game, golf also provided Green with a much needed outlet during this difficult time in his life. And Green was by no means forced to make this journey alone. Numerous members of the PGA Tour decided to donate a portion of their Wednesday pro-am earnings to Green during the 2009 season. In addition, an outing in Palm Beach Florida last November raised more than $400,000 to help cover Green’s medical expenses…with “help” being the operative word when considering the cost of health care in America.
As the New Year rung in, Green was more determined than ever to make his way back onto the Champions Tour; only life had yet another cruel twist of fate in store for him. In late January, Green’s son, Hunter, was found dead in his dorm room at Southern Methodists University. At this point, Green must have been asking himself what he could have possibly done to deserve this unfathomable amount of personal heartbreak. Although Green will never find out the answer to that question, he continued to stick with the one thing in life that he did know – golf.
Green waged a daily battle against both physical and mental pain as he moved closer to his ultimate goal, which he achieved last weekend in Savannah, GA. After years of depression, financial hardship, inner demons, poor play and personal tragedy it appears that the golf Gods have finally decided to smile upon Ken Green. Green began his opening round last Friday with back-to-back bogeys after duck-hooking his first 2 tee shots.
Following another pulled tee shot on the 9th hole, Green walked off the tee box with a downright dejected look upon his face; the kind of look you’d expect to see from a man who in the last 12 months has lost his girlfriend, his brother, his son, his dog and the lower portion of his right leg. But that was the end of Green’s downward spiral on Friday afternoon. It was as if the golf Gods all came together and said “ok, that’s enough! There’s only so much pain and suffering one man should have to endure in one lifetime.”
Green pierced a 6-iron through the wind and onto the 9th green, which was the first green he had hit in regulation all-day. Although he missed the birdie putt, green would go on to play his final 10 holes in one-under-par.
He and teammate Mike Reid carded a 67 in their opening round which landed them in 17th place out of 33 teams; not bad considering that half of the 2-man team was playing on one leg. It didn’t matter that Green and Reid would go on to finish the tournament in 26th place; Green had already achieved victory the moment he struck his first tee shot on Friday afternoon.
“You know, obviously there’s tons in life besides golf, but golf is what I am using to try to push me forward without losing it,” Green said at last week in Savannah. It may be naïve to think that sports can save a man’s life, but in Green’s case, that’s precisely what the game of golf has done for him. “Golf is everything to me,” Green said. “I love golf. Some guys play golf just because they’re damn good and they make a living. I love golf.”
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4-25-10: “Green Finishes In Savannah, Debates Next Event”
SAVANNAH — Ken Green learned over the weekend that he can still play golf. He just isn’t sure how soon he wants to do it again. Green came back after a series of tragedies to team with Mike Reid in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. The duo shot a best-ball 71 Sunday to finish at 12-under 204, tied for 26th out of 33 teams at the Champions Tour event. Last June, Green was in a crash. . . He chose to have the lower part of his right leg amputated after doctors told him it would give him the best chance of playing golf again. . . Now, Green is weighing whether to play in next week’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. “I’ll have to make a decision tonight,” he said. “I’ve got to learn to play those courses again. I’m just not sure the time is right now.“ Green also wants to play an upcoming individual 54-hole event, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Classic in Endicott, N.Y. “If the nerves (in my lower leg) settle down and I can make the changes I need to make in my swing, I can do this,” he said. “And I desperately want to do this.”
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KG & Radar-Reid go off at 9:12 Friday (April23) in Savannah…
CHAMPIONS TOUR Home: http://www.pgatour.com/s/
9:00am Sindelar,Cook / Morgan, Kite
(((( 9:12am Price,O’Meara / Reid,K. Green ))))
9:24am T. Watson,North / Stadler,Sluman
…More on The Legends Tournament:
Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf
Friday Apr 23 – Sunday Apr 25, 2010
The Westin Savannah Harbor Resort, Savannah, GA
Friday April 23, 2010:
God what a Day it was!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had the Pleasure of being there.
After a rough 1st 8 holes, a great 6-iron at 9 perked him up, and he played a Super Back9 – kept getting Better & Better – more and more solid. 2 Birds, and a 3rd one shoe-horned on him from 4 ft – he birdied the very next hole, a par3 after a great iron and 15 foot slider. On the 18th, a 457-yarder into the wind, he hit a perfect drive and great 3-wood to 30ft. short, and just missed birdie. Towards the last few holes I noticed he started getting that ole grinfing look in his eyes – that’s when you know he’s REALLY Enjoying it. I could tell he didn’t want to Stop!!
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He wore a shirt that had “Baby” on the front & back – actually, it’s a pitch for a sun care product called “Baby Blanket”, but ironically, he always called Jeanne, “Baby”. At the end, many players came over to back-slap & high5 him, and then the reporters swamped him for about 45 minutes. Then, he came over and signed autographs. I saw he was signing them “Ken Green” with “JHB” below – I saw him lean over one little boy, autographed a new Callaway for him, pointed to the “JBH” and whispered to him, “Now that stands for 3 people I Love that have gone to see God.”
It was just an Amazing day today.
4-24-10 TGC’s GolfCentral:
TGC replayed an interview with Ken prior to The Legends Rnd1, where he talked about the impact of losing Jeanne, and how much he will think about her standing on the 1st tee before he hits his opening drive (“besides the fact that it’s my 1st event back, all of a sudden it’s the 1st event where She’s not back.”). During the round1 telecast, KG was shown extensively on the back9, and they kept emphasizing his courage and what an inspiration he is. Then, after Ken & Mike shot their opening 67, the announcer said, “they’re only 5 shots out of the lead – a remarkable story.” They then replayed KG just missing a birdie putt at the 18th, and the announcer said, “that putt right there for Ken Green’s par at 18, a big and huge, huge comeback – one of the great stories of golf – THE MAN DOES NOT QUIT”. Then, the other announcer closed with, “Certainly one of the good stories in golf – we wish Ken Green the absolute Best.”.
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Heading to The Legends with Mike Reid…
“Hate to be Rude: ‘I don’t want to screw up’”
4-21-10, GolfWeek.com – by Jeff Rude
Golf doesn’t often provide material worthy of a heart-tugger on the silver screen, a storyline full of human tragedy followed by determined, painful recovery and some sort of triumph. This week, though, the game offers such an episode, for Ken Green returns to Champions Tour competition for the first time since losing his brother, girlfriend, dog and his lower right leg because of an automobile accident last June.
Starting Friday, the five-time PGA Tour winner will partner with Mike Reid in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. Green doesn’t expect to be all that competitive in the better-ball event, not that it matters to anyone but himself. What he will be is inspirational and nervous.
Ken Green had his lower right leg amputated as the result of a tragic RV accident in June that killed is brother, Billy, his girlfriend Jeannie Hodgin and his dog Nip. Green hopes to be back on the Champions Tour in April.
“I’m as nervous as I’ve ever been going into an event,” said Green, his amputated leg outfitted with prosthesis. “Some of it is knowing I’m not ready. Part of it is that some of me thinks I can still play. I don’t want to screw up.”
Green shot 68 last October from white tees and has since shot 70 from the blues. But some days he goes birdieless. Then there are the health problems. He has played but four rounds in the past five to six weeks. He spent nine days in bed and four in the hospital because of pneumonia in late March. And he still feels excruciating discomfort at times. Daily he takes about 15 pills for reasons relating to leg nerves, pain and inflammation.
“It’s a mystery,” he said of his performance this week at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. “I’m more nervous about the mystery. Once I see the movie Friday, I’ll know.”
Green, 51, says he hits the ball as far as a 65-year-old man these days. But not any 65-year-old man; like one who has had his name on his bag for years. There’s self-deprecation in the statement because his drives post-accident have peaked at 260 and averaged 245-250.
“It’s safe to say I’m not quite pro-caliber,” said Green, who characterizes himself as a 4-5 handicap. “There will be ugliness. I’ll have to laugh and hope Mike plays well.”
Green worked with his longtime instructor, Peter Kostis, last Thursday and Friday and tweaked a few things that he figures will help. The problem is he can’t practice for long periods at a time, or for days in a row, without feeling pain or burnout. So there’s yet another disadvantage.
“If I hit more than 70 balls and try it the next day, I’m fried,” he said. “Usually the third day is a nightmare.”
Yet his story, sad as it has been, has some dreamy elements. His can-do spirit is admirable. He’s touching and moving people like never before. This week, his inspiration will be in full view like never before.
“I do intend to enjoy it,” Green said. But then he tacked on a competitor’s qualifier: “I won’t be happy if I don’t make any birdies.”
Photo by Lynda Peckham
“Ken Green is working to rebuild his golf game and return to competition.”
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“Ken Green will make his competitive return to golf at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf this week”
Apr. 21, 2010, by Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Ken Green knows what it’s like inside the ropes. For him, simply returning to competitive golf is the motivation. Beyond that, who knows what will or can happen?
Now more than ever before, Green understands this much: Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is certain.
On Friday, Green, 51, will do something nobody else ever has. He will become the first amputee to tee it up on the Champions Tour. Alongside partner Mike Reid, Green will return to the Champions Tour at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, and he will cherish every moment.
“There are probably two things that stick out for me,” Green said Wednesday at Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. “One is competing again. Golf is everything to me. I love golf. Some guys play golf just because they’re damn good and they make a living. I love golf. I’m in the Arnie Palmer thing. Go out and play.
“Just 5 months ago, I was thinking that I should only do it if I feel like I can honestly try to play some good rounds. Numerous things have happened. Who is to say that something else can’t happen where you literally will never have a chance? I want to be able to say I have played, gone out there inside the ropes. There’s a special feel inside the ropes playing golf.”
There is one other, small thing.
“Desperately trying to make some birdies for Mike,” said Green, a 5-time winner on the PGA TOUR in the 1980s.
Last June, Green’s brother, Bill, and girlfriend were killed in an accident that resulted in the amputation of Green’s lower right leg. In January, Green’s 21-year-old son, Hunter, was found dead in his dorm room at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Life has taken some painful turns for the Connecticut native who has undergone extensive rehabilitation with a prosthetic limb and will become the first amputee to compete in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event.
While Green admits he still has some very bad days looking back, all he wants to do this week is look forward.
Green never doubted this moment would come, that he would someday have a driver in his hand and stand on the first tee with the ball on a peg.
“I can honestly say I did not,” he said. “Unfortunately, the mind thinks differently than the body, and I started hitting some shots that I never hit, that’s put some doubt, some concern. But I still believe that I can pull this off. It’s just going to be a little longer time than I probably would have liked.
“It’s been a journey. Sometimes that’s what the Big Guy does. I can honestly tell you without the faith that I have now, I don’t know if I could have handled everything that’s come my way. So that’s helped. You know, I didn’t always have the monster faith that I do in God. It has helped.”
The faith won’t change what he will feel on the first tee.
“I will be absolutely petrified,” Green said.
Reid and Green tied for 25th last year. Reid’s previous partner, Johnny Miller, decided not to have another go in 2009. Reid needed a partner. He picks up the story.
“I had made a couple calls to different people, and I guess the word got through to Ken that I was looking for a partner,” Reid said. “He called me, and that’s what started our partnership last year.” Reid never thought twice about who would be his partner this year. “It wasn’t long after (Green’s) accident,” Reid said. “I sent him a text probably a month after. I said, ‘We can beat most of these teams on three legs so get your game ready.’” There is a message within the message, and Reid wants to make sure nobody misses it. “It’s easy to say, ‘Boy, this is great for Ken. This is really going to lift his spirits,” Reid said. “But it’s the other way around. That’s the message I hope nobody misses. He’s lifting us. What a measure of courage to be here and to be committed.”
Green has played in a couple of small events as an amputee. In Ft. Myers he shot 73-77 and “I putted really well to do that,” he said. Then came a bout with pneumonia and a hospital stay. Last week he spent time with his instructor, Peter Kostis, who has worked with Green for 27 years.
“We’re making some changes that are totally foreign to me, complete opposite,” Green said. “When you’ve done a certain move for 30-some-odd years and he says, ‘OK, we’re going to do the opposite,’ it’s not really easy.
“The way I look at it, we’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose. Actually, I’ve been looking at the thing and thinking, OK, maybe we got a shot with that team or maybe we can handle that. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be.”
Reid’s view is much the same.
“We’re realists and yet competitors,” Reid said. “It’s easy to say fellowship is more important than championship. We’re going to go out and do the best we can. Over and above that, we’re going to have fun. It’s good to get together again and be on the golf course.”
Looking forward again, Green is setting his sights on En-Joie Golf Course in Endicott, N.Y., as a target date for his solo return to the Champions Tour.
“I am hoping that I can get these swing changes down, and I’m hoping to play at the end of June at the Dick’s Sporting Goods event,” he said. “I’ve always liked that course. It’s relatively flat. That’s probably where I’m hoping to fire it up.”
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“Reid Looks Forward to Partnering Ken Green”
Interview with Mike Reid 4-16-10:
Mike to KG: “You’re still my partner, and we can beat most of these guys on three legs.”
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how the partnership with Ken Green came about and what you’re expecting next week in that event.
MIKE REID: I think a month before that tournament last year I was looking for a partner. Because I hadn’t had enough wins, I sort of resigned myself to playing in the other decision. I think it’s call the Rafael Division.
I called Mark Hayes and I contacted another friend of mine or two, and they had already gotten partners.
I guess Ken had heard that I was looking for a partner, and he had won enough so that we could play in the upper division if he could find somebody else to play with.
So he called me, and I said, I would be delighted. We just got better as the week went along. He’d also been a friend, but not the kind of guy you see in the locker room and go out to dinner with.
We had been friends for a long time, but it was great to get to know him better, and his brother, his wife, just the family. My wife was there. We just had a great time. We went out to dinner a few times.
So after his accident this summer, I texted him. I gave him about 2 weeks and then I texted him. I said, You’re still my partner, and we can beat most of these guys on three legs. Get in shape. I expect you to be playing in April.
He texted me about 6 weeks ago and he’s sort of, I don’t know if I’m playing that good. I’m playing a 5 handicap. I don’t want to hold you back.
I said, Look, it’s more about the fellowship than the championship. It’s gonna be great for both of us. It’s golf. We’re gonna hit some good ones and we’re gonna hit some bad ones, but we’re gonna have a great time together. I haven’t heard anything from him in the last week or so, but that’s what I’m looking forward to next week. I think it’ll be therapeutic for him.
I think as your question evidences, it might have been the story of the tournament. Talk about attitude. We text back and forth and I talk to him and I’ve seen him twice since this at a fundraiser we did this summer, and then again just a few weeks ago in Florida.
He is on a mission, unlike the Ken Green that we’ve known before. I think it’s inspirational, and people need to know that. So I’m looking forward to it.
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“Reid Looks Forward to Partnering Ken Green”
Golf Digest, April 16, 2010, by Bill Fields
LUTZ, FL: Mike Reid & Ken Green teamed up to finish T-25 in a 31-field team at last year’s Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. According to Reid, the bottom line for the two golfers in the 2010 event next week in Savannah, Ga., won’t be their scores. It will be Green’s first Champions Tour appearance since having to have his lower right leg amputated after a horrible RV accident last summer.
“Ken texted me about 6 weeks ago and said he was playing to a 5 handicap and didn’t want to hold me back,” Reid said Friday at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. “I said, ‘Look, it’s more about the fellowship than the championship. It’s going to be great for both of us. It’s golf. We’re going to hit some good ones, and we’re going to hit some bad ones, but we’re going to have a great time together.
“I haven’t heard anything from him in the last week or so, but that’s what I’m looking forward to next week. I think it’ll be therapeutic for him. It might even be the story of the tournament. Talk about attitude … he’s on a mission, unlike the Ken Green that we’ve known before. I think it’s inspirational, and people need to know that. I’m looking forward to it.”
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The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf ( http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/s504 ) tournament on the Champions Tour when it takes place from April 23-25 in Savannah GA. Look for Ken when it’s televised on The Golf Channel & CBS.