The golf world is laser-focused on the fairways and greens of the 2017 PGA Championship, but there are stories laced within the tournament well worth taking a break for. Look no further than Rory McIlroy’s unique bond with a junior golfer who has as much fight in him as any player on TOUR.
According to The Golf Channel, Traden Karch, 14, was involved in a terrible car accident just six months after he won a big junior golf tournament in Oklahoma.
His skull was shattered and it took surgeons six hours to piece it back together. Initially, nurses didn’t think he would make it through the night. Doctors told his parents that they didn’t expect him to ever walk or talk again. However, after being in a coma for three weeks, Traden woke up.
His brain was so damaged he couldn’t remember anything prior to the accident, his speech was marred and he had to relearn his colors and ABCs. But, unbelievably, he still retained his golf game.
While he was in the hospital, Pete Bevacqua, CEO of PGA of America, texted McIlroy, who is Traden’s favorite player. Less than an hour later, McIlroy responded with a video for Traden.
“Golf and the PGA league really need you, and when you’re feeling better, I want you to come to a tournament and meet me, and we can hang out,” he said in the video.
Two months later, Traden was released from the hospital. Then, PGA of America sent Traden and his family to the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, where they got to meet McIlroy.
“It doesn’t matter if you remember your past or not. We’re making new memories that you will remember now. That’s what matters,” his mom said in this beautiful video by The Golf Channel:
We may be rooting for different PGA TOUR pros this week, but I think we can all agree which junior golfer we’re cheering for.