January 26, 2010
Further tragedy for golfer Ken Green, as word has come that Green's son Hunter, a 21-year-old sophomore at Southern Methodist University, has passed away. It's the latest blow in what's been an agonizing year for the onetime PGA notable.
On Friday, Hunter Green was found dead of "unexplained" causes in his dorm room. His death is still under investigation pending further testing by the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office.
Ken Green announced his son's passing on his blog with these words:
Well, today is another sad day. I’m sorry to say that my youngest son Hunter has passed. His journey in life has ended and i can’t tell you how difficult understanding this is.
Green's blog, dedicated to tracking his comeback from a terrible car crash that killed two people and cost him his leg, is difficult reading, especially considering the way he used to approach the game. Green was once one of golf's most notable characters, good enough to play in the Masters and on the 1989 Ryder Cup team but wild enough to get into trouble half a dozen different ways. According to a 2003 Golf Digest article, his exploits included sneaking friends into the Masters in the trunk of his car, driving golf balls through sliding glass doors and chipping golf balls from hotel rooms to pools across the street.
However, along the way, he went through an expensive divorce, and eventually found himself $300,000 in debt. He fought his way back onto the Tour in 2002 through qualifying school, but wasn't able to stay there.
"You try to pay the debts off, but when you're not making money, it's hard," he told Golf Digest in 2003. "And then my IRS debt ... well, they don't have a prayer unless I do well out on tour. I'm getting 'play well' cards all the time from the IRS."
From there, things spiraled out of control. "Finally I got the mental yips full bore, and I lost it totally. I couldn't play. It's impossible to play when you have 20 different people in your brain trying to scare you. There's not one positive guy in there. ... Before I even got over the ball, I knew I was going to miss it. It didn't matter if it was two feet, four feet. It's just horrifying. Playing on a professional level, it's pretty tough. Having one moment is not a big deal. I was having them every time I was over the shot."
Even so, he was beginning to claw his way back. In 2009 on the Champions Tour, he played in 11 events and earned $123,906. In March, his seventh-place finish at the AT&T Champions was the first Top 10 finish since a tie for sixth at the 1996 U.S. Open.
But then it all went terribly wrong. In June, while driving home from the Triton Financial Classic in Austin, Texas, Green's RV blew a tire and careened into a tree. Green's brother Billy, his girlfriend Jeannie Hodgin and his beloved German Shepherd Nip were all killed; Green later had the lower part of his right leg amputated because of injuries suffered in the crash. He has spent the months since trying to work his way back to the golf course.
Deepest sympathies for Green and his family, and hopefully he'll be able to continue his quest to play competitive golf again.
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