PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ken Green of West Palm Beach, Fla., whose journey back to competitive golf following a tragic recreational vehicle accident in June 2009 earned him the Champions Tour Comeback Player of the Year honor, will join the field for the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 24-29, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Green, 53, will be making his second appearance in a Senior PGA Championship, having competed in 2009, 15 days before he suffered the loss of his lower right leg in an accident near Meridian, Miss., that claimed the life of his girlfriend, brother and his pet dog. Green gained an exemption into the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf by having been a U.S. Ryder Cup Team member (1989).
"I'm really psyched about the opportunity to play in the Championship, because it's a wonderful venue and a wonderful Championship," said Green, whose 2010 comeback included teaming with past Senior PGA Champion Mike Reid for a share of 26th in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. "I believe that my story may be good for someone who has suffered a similar fate. If I can serve as any encouragement to someone missing a limb or possibly a parent who may be able to bring a kid to the course, I feel my time will be well spent."
The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid makes its second-ever visit to Valhalla Golf Club, and first since 2004. Green, believed to be the first amputee to compete in a Senior PGA Championship, will be granted the use of a golf cart on the 7,297-yard Jack Nicklaus-design course.
"I have always been a fan of Jack's courses," said Green. "I believe that I have a better chance to get around the course by the fact that it is not overly hilly. If a course has many hills, I have a hard time. I know that the course will be set up tough, but that may make it easier for me, as strange as that may sound. I cannot spin the ball the way I used to and hit the shots close to the flag."
Following Green's rehabilitation, he was fitted for a prosthetic limb that he said is a part of an ongoing learning process to play competitive golf.
"As far as prosthetics, we are really good, as there are always changes being made here and there. I real happy with what I am using," Green said. "The problem is I have to learn what I can do and what is needed to accomplish the next step. My problem is dealing with the pain level. Every amputee has different issues, and it's like pot luck. I'm dealing with the fact that the nerves refused to die away. You might say that I'm walking a cautious line."
Green said that his preparations include working with his longtime swing coach, Peter Kostis, and to compete in possibly two events, which include the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, April 18-24, in Savannah, Ga.
"Peter is still my teacher and someone who can help me evaluate what I can do next," said Green. "He will see where I've fallen and do what is best to implement a training plan for me. Once I get healthy, I believe I can give it an honest chance. The pain level is the area that I have to work on the most."
The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid brings together the strongest field in senior golf. Begun in 1937, the Senior PGA Championship brings together the legends of the game and the newest members of senior professional golf to new audiences throughout the United States.
For nearly 25 years, Valhalla Golf Club has hosted premier events - from the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships; the 2002 PGA Professional National Championship and 2004 Senior PGA Championship; to the 2008 Ryder Cup. Paul Azinger, the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, is scheduled to be among the field at Valhalla, along with Kenny Perry, Fred Couples, Tom Watson and 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin.
Any Day and Week long ticket packages to the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid may be purchased by visiting 2011SeniorPGA.com, or by calling the PGA Ticketing Center at (800) PGA-GOLF (742-4653).