Owen eager to get back in action after £230,000 blunder
Wednesday 22 March 2006
Getting straight back on the bike is always more difficult than it sounds and for Greg Owen the challenge here at Sawgrass this week must seem akin to leaping on a Harley Davidson, in flip-flops, minus a helmet and with John Daly riding pillion.
How gallant of this Mansfield lad, therefore, to be standing at The Players Championship, not 48 hours after a three-putt from three feet had cost him a win that would have changed his life immeasurably, and to be able to say: "Just get me back on the course".
But then he had a golf bag full of perspective with him. "I have just have been asking the players to sign this bag for the Danielle Beccan Trust," he said referring to the 14-year-old killed 18 months ago in a drive-by shooting in his home county of Nottinghamshire. "There's a lot worse things happen in this world than someone blowing a golf tournament."
On Sunday it did not feel like it. A few hours after he had done a "Van De Velde" at the Bay Hill Invitational, when yanking a short one on the penultimate green that would have taken him two up and the resulting 18-incher, Owen tried to sleep. "I got two hours," he said. "I went for a walk and was washing my car at 5.30am to take my mind off it."
So what happened in that mad split second when he all but handed the trophy to the Australian Rod Pampling? "I went blank," he said. "Every golfer does it; you lean over and tap it in without thinking. What hurts is that I may miss The Masters now. It cost me $400,000 [£230,000] but it's not the money. I blew a great chance. But if you told me two years ago that I would be disappointed with second, winning $600,000 and rising to 53 in the world ... I wouldn't have believed you."
In 2004, the then 190th-ranked golfer, had an operation for a burst disc trapping a nerve in his back. His career was not the worry - walking was. "I lost the feeling in my left foot," he said. "And when I flew out to Spain for therapy, I was in such agony I had to kneel on the floor facing the seat."
His progress since has been spectacular, and a top 20 finish here would give him a first start at Augusta. "That'll take my mind off that putt," Owen said. Saves washing the car again.
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