Ken Green, whose lower right leg was amputated after a fatal automobile accident last June, said he “felt like I had my throat slit” upon learning the Champions Tour Policy Board denied his request for a major medical extension during meetings March 22-23 in Orlando, Fla.
“The disappointment is pretty strong,” said Green, 51, who had 13 months left of conditional exempt status through the career-victory category at the time of the accident. “I don’t know if I was putting too much on coming back in golf as a coping mechanism or what.”
Though the Tour’s Player Advisory Council previously had turned him down, Green said he had held out hope that the board “would do the right thing.” He said he would have received the extension under Tour regulations had he been fully instead of partially exempt.
Now the five-time PGA Tour winner says he plans to write tournaments for sponsor exemptions when he’s ready to play. Green, who walks with a prosthetic right leg, says he’s mindful he’ll get into “some” tournaments on sponsor invites because of his unique story.
“But who wants to beg every week?” he said. “I just wanted something I earned. I don’t understand what they were thinking. I could probably only play one year, anyway; that’s it. I’d never make the top 30 and stay on the Champions Tour.”
Green said he has told the Tour that he would not file a lawsuit in an attempt to get the medical extension “even though lawyers have told me clearly I would win this. I won’t do it because it would only benefit me and not a mass of golfers.”
Tour officials directed a Golfweek request for comment to Champions Tour president Mike Stevens, who was at the Cap Cana Championship in the Dominican Republic on Thursday and unavailable.
Green will play the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf with partner Mike Reid on April 23-25 in Savannah, Ga., and said he hopes to play the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on June 25-27 in Endicott, N.Y. His exemption expires in late July.
He characterized his skill level at this point as “basically a 4- or 5-handicap.” He said his best post-accident score from the blue tees is 70.
Green’s brother, girlfriend and dog died June 8 after Green’s recreational vehicle blew a tire and struck a tree on an interstate in Mississippi. Green underwent an hours-long amputation a week later.