2004: Newsmakers - Iles aims for early 2005 return

Bradley Iles nearly died two months ago while laying in a coma after fracturing his skull in a late-night fall from a golf cart. Now, the 21-year-old amateur is planning a return to competitive golf in January at his national championship, the New Zealand Open.

After the Players Amateur tournament ended July 18 at Belfair Golf Club in Bluffton, S.C., Iles and seven others – including tournament winner Aron Price, Christo Greyling, Anthony Brown and Gavin Flint – set out on a late joyride looking to fish and search for alligators (Golfweek, July 31). The joy turned to pain when Iles fell off the back of the cart and hit his head on the road after an abrupt turn. Iles admitted that alcohol was involved but said, “We were sober; we had just enough to lighten up the mood.”

Iles was rushed to a Savannah, Ga., hospital and awoke from a coma two days later after surgery was performed to remove a massive blood clot from his brain. He regained consciousness six days after that, and Aug. 5 he returned to his home in New Zealand.

“I don’t remember that night at all,” Iles told Golfweek Sept. 10. “I can’t remember anything up until eight days after the accident. I still think of it all as a dream. I think about it most nights and it still freaks me out.”

The quick recovery has been nothing short of a miracle, Iles claims. While he was in the hospital, a couple was rushed into the emergency room, both with similar head injuries. The woman died the next day; the man now is a quadriplegic. Iles had several migraine headaches and vertigo six weeks ago but has felt well since.

Iles recently began hitting golf balls but cannot do so for long periods of time. Doctors have told him that he must avoid the “three Fs” – frustration, fever and fatigue – until the nerves between his spine and his brain heal properly. Iles is not allowed to drive, swim or drink alcohol for a year because of potential seizures.

Iles originally planned to represent New Zealand at next month’s World Amateur Team Championship, then turn professional and head to PGA Tour Q-School. Now, he has targeted the New Zealand Open, Jan. 20-23, as his return to competition. (Iles tied for 15th in the event this year.) He will play another summer of amateur golf in the United States, then decide if he’s ready for a professional career.

“I realize how lucky I am to have made it through everything,” Iles said. “Now I’m ready to focus on getting back on the golf course. It can’t get here fast enough.”

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