Green ‘amazing to watch’ at Legends of Golf
Friday, April 22, 2011
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Playing with pain in his first competition since June and fourth event since losing his lower right leg 22 months ago, Ken Green achieved his goal of making three birdies in the first round of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
Let’s just say the idea of three birdies looked better to him before rather than after.
“You always hope for more,” said Green, believed to be the first amputee to play a major tour. “The brain hasn’t changed. I had a day where I could’ve made five or six birdies.”
He and partner Mark Calcavecchia had hoped for better than the 4-under 68 they shot at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. They ended opening day six shots off the lead and two ahead of last place.
Green figures he shot the equivalent of a couple strokes over par on his own ball.
“I did hit a lot of good shots, so I can’t complain, but my lack of distance is costly,” said Green, who birdied one hole Calcavecchia didn’t. “I’m hitting 5-irons into greens where other guys are hitting wedge.”
Playing after having a difficult time sleeping the night before, Green backed away from shots several times because of nerve pain in his right leg. He said the sensation felt like an electrical shock.
Green suffered the loss of his lower right leg in a June 2009 recreational-vehicle accident that also claimed the lives of his brother, girlfriend and dog. His condition has worsened in the past year, what with more pain and constant headaches in recent months.
Nonetheless, he birdied No. 10 from 5 feet, the 11th on two putts and 14 from 12 feet. But he missed a 3-footer for par that mattered at No. 7, an 8-footer for birdie at the ninth and a 15-foot birdie putt at 16.
“It’s hard to swallow when you screw up,” Green said. “I’m happy with the way I hit it, but I just panicked on some putts. I just tried too hard. The anxiety of trying too hard affected my speed control. I was either long or short.”
To some, it didn’t matter. Considering his situation, Green’s performance went down as an achievement. For one, Fred Sanders, caddie for Kenny Perry, said he was awestruck observing in the same group.
“It was amazing to watch,” said Sanders, in his fourth tour of duty with Perry. “It was inspiring.”