David Graham Puts Off Heart Surgery to Attend Presidents Cup

David Graham Puts Off Heart Surgery to Attend Presidents Cup 1
David Graham has returned to Australia.

DAVID GRAHAM, THE 1981 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION and an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, hasn’t been in his native Australia since 1994 when he won the Australian Skins Game. That was also the same year that Graham captained the International team in the first Presidents Cup. Now a bad heart can’t keep the Montana resident away from his homeland.

“They’re going to have to take a tomahawk to my chest,” Graham said on Tuesday at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. The retired tour player who hadn’t been Down Under in 17 years reached for tissue after tissue as tears leaked from his puffy eyes.

“This is an emotional thing for me,” he explained.

As Dave Shedloski reported at Local Knowledge, Graham, 65, is lucky to be alive. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004. He has survived thanks to experimental drugs. He was scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery on November 4 but decided to make his return to Australia—perhaps for the last time—to watch the ninth Presidents Cup.

The heart problem ended Graham’s competitive golf career. Cross-continental travel was not an option until recently. The Aussie set aside his golf clubs for five years. Now he occasionally plays nine holes with Arnold Palmer when both are in the Palm Springs area.

“It’s really cool,” Graham said. “We don’t compete. We verbally compete. He hits it everywhere and I hit it everywhere, and we laugh at each other and give each other 10-foot putts. Then we go sit and have a glass of wine.”

There will be no 10-foot putts given this week at Royal Melbourne. Graham is glad that he’ll be there to see it.

−The Armchair Golfer

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Neil Sagebiel

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