He won twice in Zambia, and once each in Swaziland and Botswana, together with five other titles on the Sunshine Tour, and Marc Cayeux would like nothing more than adding the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open to his resume.
But, astonishingly, there is more at stake than mere glory for the 38-year-old who won his last tournament back in 2008 when he took the Nashua Masters at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club back in 2008.
For Cayeux, who lives in Harare, is making his first Sunshine Tour appearance since his vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with a police truck in 2010.
The accident claimed the life of the policeman driving the truck and Cayeux, then 32, suffered dreadful injuries that required 27 operations and hours of physical therapy for more than five years just for him to get back to his feet, never mind playing golf.
Now, remarkably, Cayeux is back and ready to play in the tournament he almost won in 2010 when he finished third behind South Africans Jbe’ Kruger and Jaco van Zyl.
Ben Hogan suffered a similarly horrific car crash in 1949 when the vehicle he and his wife were in collided head-on with a 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.
His story remains an inspiration for Cayeux in his comeback bid.
“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.”
Cayeux is part of the 156-man field which tees off at Royal Harare in the 72-hole tournament for a prize fund of R1.8-million on Thursday.
With reporting from Daniel Nhakaniso, Zimbabwe Independent