HARARE — Marc Cayeux shot a three-over-par 75 in the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open pro-am this week and it took as much courage as all of his nine Sunshine Tour golf titles combined.
On a day after which a sporting event was bloodied by an unspeakably cowardly act of violence in the United States, Cayeux played 18 holes on the Royal Harare Golf Course he loves so much and took another step back to a distant goal of playing professional golf after a horrific motor accident in 2010.
And while he would be the first to applaud the bravery of those who will emerge from the Boston Marathon bombings and rebuild shattered lives, his own story speaks of incredible courage after that head-on collision on a Zimbabwe road saw a police officer dead, and Cayeux’s own life in danger as he was airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital.
He used a crutch throughout his round, and got around the course on a golf cart, but those 75 shots came at a painful price. “It feels good, but the pain I go through is the hard bit,” he said, and he’s not even sure that will recede. “I’ve probably got two more operations to go and I’m hoping they will take a lot of pain from walking, and making it a whole lot easier to walk and play 18 holes.”
Extraordinarily, he’s had 21 operations so far. “I’ve definitely got to have one on a hernia on my right side, and then we’re going to the UK to get some more opinions on my left ankle,” he said. “I hope there’s some new technology that can help.”
The ‘we’ includes wife Jana and his sons Ross and Jason. It was Jana who had to keep the mood positive as Cayeux plumbed the depths of despair, and Ross battled with the thought of his dad so badly hurt.
Jason was born after the accident, and has seen his dad fight an extraordinary battle.
“In 17 years as a professional, I never thought it would feel good to be back in the Zimbabwe Open pro-am!” he said. “I just wish I could be competing – as in teeing it up when the tournament starts on Thursday, playing against another 155 players, but I’ve got to start slowly.
“After shooting 75 today, I felt there was something there, but the pain I have to go through… look, it’s getting better, but you’ve got to stretch yourself to get further and further, and I don’t want to rush back by overdoing it. Sometimes, when I have played, the pain is excruciating and I can’t walk the next day,” he added.
He’s acutely aware of the warning that kind of experience gives him. “Mark McNulty came and visited me in hospital, and said when I thought I was ready, I should take longer. But that’s the game of golf – it calls you back, and it could be too early to come back,” he said.
The last time he played the Zimbabwe Open was in 2010 when he finished third behind Jbe’ Kruger and Jaco van Zyl. It will be a while before he plays again.
But for now Cayeux’s goal is to walk 18 holes.