As he stood on the first tee at Leopard Creek in a practice round ahead of this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, Zimbabwean professional Marc Cayeux couldn’t quite believe he had reached this point.
In 2010 Cayeux was involved in a horrific car accident that put him in hospital for three months. After 27 operations there was doubt that he would ever walk properly again, never mind play golf.
But the former multiple tour winner who had played with and impressed Tiger Woods was determined to get back out on the fairways.
And his perseverance has been rewarded with a place in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, a tournament he returns to for the first time in six years and his biggest tournament since his accident.
“There’s always the question, are you going to make it back? I had my bad days. But I kept saying to myself, in golf it’s about how you bounce back,” said Cayeux.
“You look at guys who go drop or double drop in a round, and it’s all about bouncing back and making a birdie. I kind of looked at that and thought, well, this is a big thing that’s happened to me. So it’s how I bounce back that’s going to make the difference.”
While in hospital Cayeux longed to simply see blue sky again, and he admits it’s still somewhat surreal to be walking this magnificent golf course in a major tournament.
“I remember watching on TV, going through the motions and putting myself in a situation of watching the other golfers and pretending that it’s actually me playing. Now we’re here.
“To have a great week will be nice, but it’s just great to be here and participate. Hopefully we can make the most of it. I mean, there’s nothing better than being here at Leopard Creek. It’s a great place, and to be here soaking it all up is great.
“I’m not going to expect too much. I’m here to enjoy it and soak it up. It’s like learning all over again. It’s been six years, so no matter what happens I’m going to enjoy it.”