Fighting Green wants Tour return after losing leg in accident

In 1990, Ken Green was the star attraction at the Hong Kong Open golf tournament, which I covered as a reporter for the South China Morning Post newspaper.

From a strictly media-to-player point of view, I found Green slightly cocky and arrogant. He could afford to be. After all, he was the main drawcard, having won five times on the PGA Tour.

And, he went on to win the tournament in Hong Kong. As I said, I comment on his personality from the superficial perspective of a journalist, not all of whom endear themselves to high-profile athletes.

If, however, there is a hint of accuracy in my observations, then these qualities are just what he needs to overcome the biggest challenge of his life – returning to pro golf after losing those closest to him, and one of his legs.

On June 8, Green was in a car with his girlfriend, brother Billy, who was driving, and his dog Nip, travelling on the Interstate 20 in Mississippi. A tyre blew, the vehicle went off the road and it hit a tree.

Green was the sole survivor. Although he has no recollection of the accident, soon after regaining consciousness, he was already planning his golfing comeback to the Champions Tour.

The doctors told him that they would be able to save his leg but he would never regain the same functionality. Green told them to cut it off. He’d rather have no leg than a leg that would prevent him from playing golf.

Green told journalists this week that he has targeted a return to pro golf by, the latest, summer next season. AP quoted him as saying:

“July might be better. But I don’t know, I’ve never done this before. The question is, can I get back to the highest level? Our level and just golf are two different worlds.”

This is not the first trial Green has had to face. He has previously overcome depression, financial woes and back problems, though nothing compares to the tragic losses of life and limb he experienced in June.

His sister, Shelley, has been helping him in his recovery and professional golfers such as Fred Funk, Curtis Strange, Mark Calcavecchia and Phil Blackmar played in a charity event to help him pay for medical bills and expenses.

When he turned 50 last year, Green, who had not made any money as a pro the previous three years, was eligible for the Champions Tour. Before the accident, he was 54th on the money list and earned more than $120,000.

He is confident he can overcome the loss of his leg and play at the level needed to be competitive on the Champions Tour.

“When I was fighting through my depression, that, I believe was harder, because I didn’t know I was in it. Whereas this one, you know what you have to tackle. You have to get your leg, then you have to go change your swing, and then you have to go start playing like a pro again.

“Obviously, I lost three of my best friends and I think I’d be doing them a dishonour if I didn’t come back from this. Just because I lost a leg, you have to say, ‘OK, we’ll work around that’.”

Should Green succeed in his comeback, he will make history. And whatever anyone thinks of his personality, he will always be a champion, just like he was in Hong Kong 19 years ago.

3 Responses to “Fighting Green wants Tour return after losing leg in accident”

  1. Larry Quah says:

    What tenacity and courage! It augurs well for his comeback and I wish him all the best in his return to the Pro Tour.

  2. John Bobek says:

    I wish him luck

  3. Carl Sanders says:

    I sure will pray for Mr. Green he still has the heart of a Champion. This game that we love will bring that out of all of us.

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