BELLEAIR — A split-second reaction likely saved Jaye Marie Green’s life. But it also put her golf career in jeopardy.
Riding a motorized bicycle that can reach speeds of up to 30 mph down a highly trafficked street on her way to dinner in May in Jupiter, Green hit a curb, knocking her off balance.
She flew off the bike, barely missing the cars passing by. Her shoulder, face and knees slammed into the concrete, and she fractured her right elbow.
But things could have been worse for the 26-year-old Fort Lauderdale native, who somehow managed to steer the bike away from traffic. Her father, Donnie, calls her a “walking blessing.”
“I’m just happy to be alive, and I feel really blessed,” Green said. “There (were) definitely angels around me, 100 percent. It’s really hard to explain.”
Doctors worried about Green’s future in golf, since she at first couldn’t straighten her elbow past a 90-degree angle. She needed 10 weeks to fully recover from the fracture.
Her return to golf wasn’t easy, but she made it back. The Pelican Women’s Championship this week at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair is her seventh LPGA Tour event since the accident.
Green shot 2-under 68 Thursday, her best opening-round score in more than a year. She followed that with a 4-over 74 on Friday, putting her at 2-over for the tournament, tied for 37th.
The timing of the accident was frustrating for Green. Having already missed months of playing time due to the coronavirus pandemic, she knew her injuries would keep her sidelined for the first four or five events following the tour’s resumption.
She also worried about how well she’d play once she returned. But she understood that her recovery from her injuries, which also included a concussion, couldn’t be rushed.
“I still have little things, like, in my head, like my brain kind of hurts sometimes,” Green said. “It’s like certain things I forget that I know, and it scares me, and then I really can’t remember because I’m panicking. I think that’s just, like, post-concussion syndrome, so I should be fine.”
The time away from the course helped put things into perspective. Golf is no longer Green’s No. 1 priority, even though she’s dedicated the past 15 years of her life to the sport.
“I think I realized I found a lot of my identity in golf, so I kind of just felt, like, really depressed,” she said. “I was like, I’m no one now. And then it was cool. I started going to church a lot and found my identity elsewhere, so it makes life a lot better. I just feel happy all the time.”
How Tampa Bay area players fared
Tampa resident Elizabeth Szokol had five birdies and just one bogey in shooting 4-under 66. She moved to 5-under 135 for the tournament — a career-low for 36 holes — and into fifth place, three shots behind leader Sei Young Kim.
“(It) feels good,” Szokol said. “I was playing well, so it’s nice to put two good rounds together before the weekend.”
Seminole native and Gulfport resident Brittany Lincicome shot 2-over 72, slipping to 1-over for the tournament, tied for 25th. She had a birdie and three bogeys.
“I have a long way to go to get back to the top after today,” she said. “But I’m super grateful. I have two more days to attack this golf course.”
Lincicome said the wind, measured at 10 to 15 mph on Friday, was a factor the first two days. She said a thinner treeline than she remembers in the past leaves the course more exposed to the elements.
“It makes it a lot more challenging,” Lincicome said. “(Thursday), I made every putt imaginable but they were all for par because I only hit eight greens, and (Friday), I wasn’t doing any of that. I hit more greens, but I wasn’t putting great. Maybe (Saturday) is my day.”
Bradenton’s Jessica Korda shot 3-over 73, including two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 No. 14 hole. But seven bogeys dropped her to 2-over for the tournament, tied for 37th.
Tampa’s Brittany Altomare also was at 2-over after two days, shooting par 70 in the second round.