Golf

Savannah man on course for walking every hole on PGA Tour

When we last saw D.J. Gregory of Savannah, he was twisting and spinning his way up the 8th fairway of the Harbour Town Golf Links. Cerebral palsy forced a painful-looking pirouette around his metal cane with every jerking step.

That was a year ago. The Verizon Heritage tournament was early in his long season of hope. The stubborn little cuss was hell-bent on doing this choppy walk down every hole of every round in every tournament on the PGA Tour.

He did it.

And he's back this week, walking every hole at the Verizon Heritage, as if to spit in the eye of the conventional wisdom that greeted him when he came into the world 10 weeks early 31 years ago. "This boy will never walk," they said.

Don and Jackie Gregory wouldn't take that for an answer. He had five surgeries before first grade. He army-crawled, then used two canes and then one.

Now their son won't take no for an answer either.

Jackie walked nine tournaments with D.J., who had the blessings of the tour and was assigned a different player to follow each week. Don, who sells timeshares for Marriott Vacation Club International on Hilton Head Island, walked with his son in 21 tournaments.

It's doubtful that anyone in any condition has ever walked every hole of every tournament in a season.

D.J. loves golf because it's the only game he can play. With one hand on a cane and one on a golf club, his scores from the forward tees hover a little over 100. This whole thing started when his dad took him to the Greensboro Open in North Carolina when he was 12 to get autographs. Ken Venturi of CBS Sports saw him, and the rest is history.

D.J.'s stats for the 2008 season: He walked 44 tournaments in 45 weeks, covering 988 miles and 3,256 golf holes; fell 29 times; got up 29 times; wore out five pairs of FootJoy shoes and an unspecified number of Band-Aids and cane tips; traveled 79,838 miles to and from events in 23 states, the United Kingdom and Canada.

ESPN produced a feature on the feat called "Walk On." They called it a "walk beyond measurement." ABC News named him a "Person of the Week."

A book about the venture will come out May 5. It's called "Walking With Friends: An Inspirational Year on the PGA Tour" with a foreword by his longtime friend and supporter, Jim Nantz, who will call the Heritage action this week for CBS Sports.

D.J. is now giving speeches, some for charity. He'll walk about 20 tournaments this year. And he'll soon embark on a book tour. Don't let anybody tell you you can't do anything, he says. Don't let a handicap stop you.

As he and his mother relaxed on Hilton Head this week, they remembered huddling against the 60 mph winds at the British Open, struggling to put one foot in front of another as the rain stung like needles.

"We were holding each other up," she said.

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