Marc Cayeux knew exactly what Tiger Woods felt when he completed an incredible comeback to win the Tour Championship last weekend.
And for Cayeux, it’s given him even more belief that he can make his own equally impressive comeback in professional golf.
It’s been eight years since Cayeux’s promising professional career was halted by a horrific car accident from which doctors believed he was just lucky to survive, never mind ever contemplate playing professional golf again.
But Cayeux has never given up hope of returning to the kind of form that saw him win nine times on the Sunshine Tour, earn playing privileges on the European Tour and tee it up alongside Woods, then the world number one, in the 2005 WGC-NEC Invitational.
Then came a magical 54 holes at Arabella Country Estate two weeks ago when Cayeux led the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament there on his way to finishing seventh, his best finish since his car accident. And the belief is now even stronger.
‘It’s a big milestone for me with what I’ve been through. A top-10 finish was a goal I’d set for myself in 2019 so it’s come a bit early. But I was ecstatic about it,’ he said at St Francis Links on Wednesday, where he is preparing for this week’s fourth tournament on the Sunshine Tour’s Vodacom Origins of Golf series.
‘It was so good to be back in the mix. It felt as though the last eight years never happened. It’s hard to explain when you’ve gone through so much. When I was lying in that hospital bed, I did dream of winning a tournament again. If you don’t dream it then you are focusing on the wrong things. So staying focused and believing I would contend again was big for me. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t make it back, and I’ve enjoyed meeting these people because it’s pushed me harder to turn that negative into a positive.
‘Achieving that top 10 definitely changes my outlook. There are always those questions in the back of your mind as to whether you can in fact compete again, and finishing top 10 gives me that belief. I believe I can win. You’ve got to play to win.’
Cayeux says seeing Woods make his comeback has certainly inspired him.
‘Without a doubt it’s motivated me even more. Ben Hogan’s story of coming back from a car accident to win the US Open has also inspired me. Every injury is different, but it’s still a mental thing you have to deal with. Woods’ mental strength is incredible and what he’s achieved is great. He’s definitely going to win a Major again.’
Physically, Woods fought his way back from four spinal surgeries to win again. Cayeux had 27 operations just to get him walking again.
The year of the comeback in golf may just have one more story to be told in 2018.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour