Thursday's first round of The Masters brings back a flood of happy memories for golfer Ken Green. At this stage, he'll take anything that can buoy his spirits.
Green, a Danbury native, has been recovering from injuries sustained in an accident involving his recreational vehicle in Mississippi in June 2009. His brother, William, and his girlfriend, Jeanne Hodgin, died in the wreck, along with his German shepherd dog, Nip. Green suffered serious injuries, and his right leg was amputated.
Green spoke on a conference call Thursday with the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance . The group will honor him at its Gold Key dinner on April 17 with the Bob Casey Courage Award. Green and Bristol Eastern girls soccer player Jamie Botteon will receive the honor.
The golfer still has a host of physical issues. It's a far cry from 1986, when he took the first round lead at the Masters with a surprising 68. Jack Nicklaus went on to win the tournament for his last victory in one of golf's four major championships.
"I remember so much of that,'' Green said. "It was my first Masters, and I can promise you there has never been a better putting round. The putts I made were just idiotic. I made three putts from 50 feet, and four from 20-25 feet. It was absolutely insane."
Green's sister, Shelly, caddied for him at Augusta, and one of his sons was his caddy for the par 3 tournament. "Back then I got reprimanded for it,'' Green said. "Now they make suits for them. I do have a lot of firsts at Augusta."
He made six trips to the Masters , and won five PGA Tour events. He plays infrequently on the Senior PGA Tour these days, and is still trying to overcome physical issues associated with the accident. "I'm still in more pain than I would like,'' Green said. "I'm not complaining. It is what it is, and I have to deal with it. My hope is that we'll eventually figure it out. We are getting closer."
He now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., and has met a lot of war veterans who have been injured in battle. "For some of them, it's like they've never been hurt,'' Green said. "The thing they think right out of the box is how am I going to get back to my friends at war. These guys have given everything they have for us. People have no appreciation for what they go through. Unless you are around the people, it doesn't really hit you."
Green was honored last year by the Fairfield County Sports Commission at its annual SportsNight. The Gold Key Dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by contacting president Zac Boyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mailing a check to the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT 06085.
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