By Michael Vlismas
Zimbabwean professional Marc Cayeux, who in 2010 suffered a horrific car accident that halted one of the most promising careers in Southern African golf, has indicated his desire to return to the Sunshine Tour towards the end of 2015.
Cayeux was a nine-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, including a memorable victory over Mark McNulty in the 1999 Swaziland Open and a closing 61 with a back nine of 29 to win the 2005 Vodacom Tour Championship by six strokes, before his accident. It came a week after he won a tournament in Zimbabwe.
A police truck hit a cow and then swerved into the other lane, hitting Cayeux’s car head on. The policeman driving the truck died, while Cayeux suffered horrific injuries that required 27 operations and still has doctors doubting he will play golf again.
But watching the action at this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club, where Louis De Jager opened with a seven-under-par 63 to lead by four shots, Cayeux says he’s taken inspiration from one of golf’s most legendary comebacks.
Ben Hogan suffered a similarly horrific car crash in 1949 when the vehicle he and his wife were in was hit head-on by a Greyhound bus. After a series of painful operations and life-threatening blood clots, Hogan was told he would never play golf again. A year later he won the US Open, and he went on to win five of the next seven Majors he played.
“I believe if Hogan could do it then so can I,” said Cayeux. “People say, ‘Your body’s been through too much. You won’t make it’. But if you just go on everyone’s word, you won’t accomplish anything. The only way to find out is to do it yourself. If golf’s not meant to be my body will tell me I can’t do it. But mentally I believe I can. These four years have made me mentally stronger. And Hogan showed it could be done. The way I see it, with modern technology and modern medicine, there’s a chance.”
Some of golf’s biggest names have been supporting Cayeux since his accident. “He’s got a good mind and a strong will. I think he’ll be okay,” said Tony Johnstone. Cayeux received regular messages of support from Nick Price and Adam Scott, to name a few. This was a player who even managed to impress Tiger Woods when he played alongside him in the WGC-NEC Invitational one year, when Cayeux kept playing despite burning his hand during a braai. “Incredible, absolutely incredible,” Woods said at the time.
Cayeux’s most recent operation was to shorten his one leg so he could walk better. “It was really odd. I’ve been 5 feet 11 inches my whole life. Now I’m 5 feet nine inches. A two-inch difference.” Cayeux doesn’t miss the irony that golf is a game of inches, with one inch often being the difference between a putt dropping for a win or staying out.
“I’ve got to try. If we don’t keep trying, then what are we here for?”