Playing for Ken

The black 3 next to his name caused a bit of pain. But the green ribbon in his hat? That brought a slight smile to Craig Thomas’ face.

“It’s for Ken Green,” Thomas said. “He’s a close friend.”

Thomas is in the 91st PGA Championship, having qualified with a fourth-place finish in the national Club Pro Championship. That is a big deal, one he doesn’t take lightly, but it is easy to take his thoughts away from Hazeltine when you ask about Green, the longtime PGA Tour member who was involved in a horrible car crash two months ago in Mississippi.

Killed in the crash were Green’s girlfriend, his brother, and his dog. The Champions Tour player and former Ryder Cupper lost his right leg. Thomas, 46, grew up in Danbury, Conn., with Green and was recently in Florida to visit his longtime friend. “He’s feeling good, his spirits are up,” Thomas said, “but it’s a tough thing.”

When they were together in the winter, Thomas as Green’s caddie in a Champions Tour stop in California, a ballmark exchanged hands and was totally forgotten. Months later, Thomas went in his bag and saw the ball marker with the word “RAT” written on it.

“He has all these ballmarkers with the names of his dogs on them,” Thomas said. “I forgot to give it back to him, so I figured I’d use it today.”

It didn’t help his score, a 75 on a day when Hazeltine was as soft as it will get, but it served to remind Thomas that there is more important things in this world than the number on your scorecard.

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