AUSTRALIAN golfing great Greg “the great white shark” Norman is recovering after a chainsaw accident that nearly cost him his left hand, but not his sense of humour.
The two-time major winner said he was “damaged” but “lucky” to still have a left hand after almost severing it while gardening at his South Florida home on Saturday.
However, less than a day after the accident, he joked: “At least I can still play tennis.”
The 59-year-old posted a picture of himself on social media sites as he lay recovering in hospital in the United States on Saturday night.
It shows his left hand heavily bandaged and protected by a large block of purple foam.
“Working with a chainsaw ALWAYS be respectful of the unexpected,” he wrote. “I was one lucky man today. Damaged, but not down & out. Still have left hand.”
Norman was Open champion in 1986 and 1993. He also finished runner-up in two US Opens, two US PGAs and three Masters, and was world No.1 for more than six years in the 1980s and 1990s.
His six-foot stature, flaxen blond hair and aggressive golfing style saw him nicknamed after his birthplace’s most fearsome predator.
Norman was cutting back trees in his garden when the weight of a branch pulled his left hand toward the chainsaw.
Speaking afterwards, he said the blade hit him just below the area where a wrist watch would go, and doctors had told him it missed an artery by just a fraction of an inch.
“Thank God the blade wasn’t running full speed or it would have taken my hand off,” he said.
As news of the incident spread, Twitter was abuzz with messages of support.
He responded: “Thank u all for your concern & good wishes. All well the morning after the accident. Here I am at the scene of the crime w/my new fashion statement!”
He included a new Instagram picture of himself, bare-chested and grinning, giving a thumbs-up with his right hand – and still sporting the giant foam guard on the injured left arm.
Legions of fans tweeted messages of support, with many poking fun at the contraption.
One said: “First chainsaw and now you get your hand stuck in a plant pot!”
Another added: “Easier to swing a golf club, than swing a chainsaw. Get well real soon!”
Norman expressed his surprise at the magnitude of the response from well-wishers.
He said: “I just didn’t expect when I posted that Instagram that it would explode like that.”
The golfer had posted another picture a week earlier, showing him standing next to a tree and holding a chainsaw. The message read: “Time to trim the sea grapes today. Never ask someone to do something that you can do yourself. Love to work!”
But Norman said he would do it again.
“When I’m on a ranch, I love to run the bulldozer, the grader, whatever. I like doing stuff. I never ask anybody to do that for me if I can do it myself,”
It is not yet known how the injury might affect the veteran golfer’s game in the future.
He said: “There is no major damage – there is nerve damage, but no muscular damage.”
Mr Norman said he would have to wear the foam for at least a few days and would be in a sling for a few weeks before starting rehabilitation.
“There’s a little tingling in my fingers, which is better than no fingers at all,” he said.
Although he continues to play tournaments, an increasing amount of time is spent on his business interests.