Doctors told him he was unlikely to ever walk again, let alone play golf.
But five years and 27 operations after a car accident that almost took his life Marc Cayeux is walking again and firmly back on the course.
He was told he was destined for the wheelchair, yet now he even refuses to entertain the aid of a golf cart around the course.
It is almost beyond belief but the man once regarded as one of the finest of his generation has continued to defy the odds in pursuit of his life dream, with the Zim Open his next big target.
Gifted with a solid all-round game, soft-spoken Cayeux has nine wins on the Sunshine Tour, two more on the European Challenge Tour — by far the best record by a Zimbabwean since the glory days of the 1990s.
Before the horrific accident Cayeux was carefully tracking the spike-marks of Zimbabwean greats Nick Price, Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty.
But life would take a sudden and nasty turn for the then 32 year-old when he sustained serious head injuries in a headon car crash near Ngundu Halt in Masvingo in 2010, on a journey to the Beitbridge border post
The details of the crash read: A police truck hit a cow, then swerved onto the oncoming lane hitting Cayeux’s car head on in the process.
The policeman driving the truck died; Cayeux’s mishap added concern to the family as he had only just visited his father who had suffered a stroke.
“I had come to Zimbabwe because my dad suffered a stroke so we were here for two months to help my mom,” said Cayeux, who now lives in Johannesburg with his wife Jana and two sons Ross Matthew and Jason Luke.
“I’ve had 27 operations. I was in hospital for three months. I stayed in the intensive care unit for three weeks.”
“They shortened my left leg to even things out because I lost three centimetres in my right ankle which was severely damaged, as well as the knee.”
Against all odds, four years and nine months after the accident Cayeux, who is briefly back in the country to visit friends and family, played 18 holes without the aid of a golf cart for the first time at Royal Harare Golf Club.
“It’s been almost five years of just wanting to walk through 18 holes. To be able to play 18 holes was very emotional. The main goal now is to be able to do it five times a week. It’s the biggest hurdle and I will continue to work hard until I achieve it,” said Cayeux.
After enduring an ordeal that would have easily sent many spiralling into depression, Cayeux — who is inspired by the late World Golf Hall of Famer, American Ben Hogan — remains extraordinarily upbeat.
Hogan, who like Cayeux also quit school at an early stage to pursue a career in golf, similarly suffered a horrific car crash in 1949 when the vehicle he and his wife were travelling in was struck head on by a bus.
After a series of painful operations and life-threatening blood clots, Hogan was told he would never play golf again. A year later he won the US Open, and went on to win five of the next seven Majors in which he played.
“What keeps me going is the Ben Hogan story,” Cayeux said. “I keep looking at that and I tell myself if he was able to do it I’m also going to try and do it. I’d be happy if I can be a tenth of what he was.
“Even though doctors told me my body’s been through too much and I would never play again I’d tell myself that doctors don’t specialise in golf. If you listen to what people say you will never achieve anything. Your mind is very powerful. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs that have been told they would never walk again, but because of the right mindset were able to defy the odds.
“If you have a dream in life chase it and you’ve got to go for it at 110%.”
Cayeux, who will undergo a final operation in the near future, said he was hoping to return to the Sunshine Tour in time for next year’s flagship Zimbabwe Open.
The last time he played at the Open was in 2010 when he finished third behind eventual winner Jbe’ Kruger from South Africa and runner up Jaco van Zyl.
“I will require one more operation and after that I hope to be ready for what would be my first event next year, the Zim Open. Obviously Zimbabwe is my home and it would be nice to come back home for the tournament. That’s my goal but if I’m not ready I will not rush it. I’ve tried to rush it before but broke plates and screws in my leg,” he said.