Thursday 21 September 2017

Rory McIlroy's tribute to boy golfer fighting back from horror crash

Brett Campbell

Rory McIlroy has narrated an emotional news feature telling the powerful story of his friend's special relationship with golf.

The video, telling the remarkable story of an American junior regional PGA champion who lost everything except his golf swing in a devastating car accident, aired on the Golf Channel on Wednesday night.

"I don't know about you but I take my memories for granted. I've got a friend who has it a little different," Rory told viewers.

He was referring to 14-year-old Traden Karch, whose life changed on February 23 last year - just six months after he sank the winning putt that took his team to the national finals of the youth tournament.

Rory narrated: "It was just another day until it wasn't."

Following the serious car crash in his home town of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, which crushed his skull and left him in a coma for three weeks, Traden lost his memory and his ability to speak.

His distraught family prayed by his bedside as their desperate appeal for friends on social media to pray with them went around the world.

His dad brought Traden's favourite toy - a putter - to the hospital in an attempt to put a smile on his son's face and discovered, to everyone's amazement, the only thing he hadn't lost was his swing.

"He used his old grip and just started putting," his dad explained.

At the same time, a video of Traden's winning putt at the junior PGA final was being shared throughout the golf world.

It grabbed the attention of the four-time Major winner from Co Down, who's currently competing in the PGA Championship at the Quail Hollow Club.

"Without his memories Traden had so much less to cling to, so much less to strive for in recovery," Rory said.

He was so touched by Traden's story that he sent a personal video message wishing him well.

He also invited the teenager to be his special guest at last year's PGA Championship.

"Golf and the PGA junior league really need you.

"When you're feeling better I want you to come to a tournament and meet me and we can hang out," McIlroy told him.

Traden, who goes to the golf course every day, said he has watched the message a lot because it makes him feel "important".

Rory concluded the piece by explaining how trying to hit the ball straighter and further now means a little more for his friend: "The game is the best way to remind himself who he really is."

Belfast Telegraph

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