Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Golfer Ken Green, who is now an amputee, to return to Champions Tour

From The Seattle Times:

Ken Green (pictured) has overcome depression, financial troubles and a bad back. He doesn't plan on letting the loss of a leg keep him off the 50-and-older Champions Tour.

Green, 51, had his lower right leg amputated after a recreational-vehicle accident in June that killed his brother and girlfriend. He said Sept. 28 he hopes to be back on the Tour by April.

"It's probably not realistic; July might be better," Green said. "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."

The five-time winner on the PGA Tour was in his hometown of Danbury, Conn., where pros including Fred Funk, Curtis Strange and Mark Calcavecchia played at Ridgewood Country Club to help raise money to pay some of his medical and personal expenses. Officials expect the event will bring in about $150,000, and plan a similar fundraiser in Florida in November.

Green was with his brother, Billy, and Ken's girlfriend, Jeannie Hodgin, when the RV his brother was driving blew a tire and went off Interstate 20 near Hickory, Miss, hitting a tree. Ken Green was the only survivor.

Green said he doesn't remember the accident, just waking up in the hospital. He said doctors told him they might be able save his leg, but that it would never function properly.

"I told them to cut it off, because that was my only chance," he said. "I wouldn't have been able to swing properly with that leg the way it was."

Green's sister, Shelley White, has been with him since the accident. She said he has been focused on golf almost since the moment he woke up. Green, who is being fitted with a prosthetic that includes an ankle that will pivot, had hoped to be able to play a few holes Monday, but said the pain in his leg would not allow it.

Green said this isn't the toughest thing he has been through. He went through a bout with depression in the 1990s that, combined with a back injury, almost cost him his golf career.