For the first time in a long time people are talking about my
golf game. What a relief. For two years it seems all everyone
has wanted to ask me about is the bullet I took in the neck back
in July 1994, on the night after the second round of the
Youngstown-Warren (Ohio) Classic.
That bullet was a stray, fired by a man more than a mile away.
It slammed into my neck as I was walking into a drugstore on my
way to buy baby oil to keep my milled putter from rusting. I
didn't know what hit me. The 9-mm bullet (about the size of your
thumb) entered my neck on the left side, barely missing a major
artery, and became lodged beside a carotid artery, which carries
blood to the head. Doctors feared they might rupture the artery
if they attempted to remove the bullet, so they left it there.
Although I could feel the bullet pressing against my esophagus,
I played the week after the accident, coming in 10th at the
Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, which up to that point was my best
finish that season. After that, though, I really struggled with
the pain. When the weather was cold, I felt as if a knife were
digging into me. Also, I had nightmares and suffered from
post-traumatic stress disorder.
I was at a tournament in Seattle in 1995 when I woke up one
morning with a swollen and puffy neck. I went to the fitness
van. They wouldn't touch it, so I went to the hospital. The
doctors thought the bullet might have moved or become infected,
but I played the tournament anyway. After all, that was my job,
and you have to do your job.
When I returned home to Nashville, the doctors said the bullet
should come out. From the X-rays they could see that it had
moved--probably because of all the torquing of the neck during
the golf swing--and they thought it might continue moving. That
October, I finally had surgery to remove the bullet. After the
operation I woke up and immediately felt better. I didn't
realize how much range of motion I had lost. More than anything,
though, my mental game improved. Because I had felt the bullet
every waking minute, I had constantly worried about it. I still
think about it, but not so much.
I guess I can understand why more people are interested in my
accident than in my golf. Last year I was only 99th on the LPGA
money list, and this season I didn't finish in the top 25 in an
event until the U.S. Women's Open, in which I was 19th.
Recently, though, my game has improved. I've placed in the top
five three times in the last two months and rank 57th in
earnings. I've never finished higher. Maybe now I'll be
recognized for something other than being the golfer who was
shot in the neck.
Kim Williams, 34, became a member of the LPGA in 1986.