Marc Cayeux looked a long way from playing golf again when he made an unannounced appearance at the Joburg Open.
He was in a wheelchair, and the surgical boot on his left leg together with the visible scars spoke of a battle that was more important than any swing adjustments he had ever made.
As he spoke, he sounded absolutely determined that the outcome of his protracted battle to beat the effects of a horrific motor car accident last September would be an outcome that would make the battle worthwhile Â even if it didnÂt involve competitive golf again.
ÂI want to walk without pain,Â he said. ÂI donÂt want to live on painkillers, and golf will come after that.Â
The head-on collision on a Zimbabwe road saw a police officer dead, and CayeuxÂs own life in danger as he was airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital.
It was an icy sense of shock that descended on Sunshine Tour players and staff as the SAA Pro-Am Invitational at Paarl drew to a close and the sketchy bits of information were shared by those who knew already Â and kept from those who actually had cause to celebrate that day.
One Sunshine Tour staff member thought of last yearÂs Africom Zimbabwe Open when CayeuxÂs brother Glenn waited anxiously and in vain on the first day of the event for a late withdrawal so he could get into the main draw.
ÂI was struck by two things,Â said the staffer. ÂOne was how keen Marc was that his brother should get the chance to play, and the other was how close the rest of the family was.Â
In the event, Cayeux went out on the opening day and carded a superb eight-under-par 64 to lead his home open, and came close to pulling off a win. But in the end, he was unable to hold off a charging Jaco van Zyl and winner JbeÂ Kruger on the final day.
After the accident, it was CayeuxÂs immediate family who were drawn into the day-to-day grit of hope and fear.
Wife Jana had to keep the mood positive as Cayeux plumbed the depths, and as son Ross battled with the thought of his dad so badly hurt.
And as the battle began to be won, there were friends who shared the burden. ÂYou find out who your friends are,Â said Cayeux. ÂBut it must have been difficult for some people to see me like that, and I accept that.Â
Most of the battle was a personal one, however, and the victories seemed huge, even when they were small. ÂWhen I was finally able to get outdoors, even though it was into a parking lot, I canÂt tell you how beautiful it was to see blue sky and lie in the shade of a tree again,Â he said.
Relishing the victories is what will help him on the road ahead.
Perhaps he wonÂt add to his nine Sunshine Tour victories, but he will harness some incredible determination to attempt to walk the fairways again.
ÂI remember saying to myself, ÂIÂm not going to die like thisÂ,Â recalled Cayeux of the moments after the collision.
ÂFrom that moment until now, it has been a case of ÂI can get through thisÂ.
ÂAnd when I do, I want to donate a percentage of my winnings to some sort of charity that helps people who go through this kind of thing,Â he said.
ÂThereÂs so much more to life than golf.Â