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Gerring Ignores Doctor's Orders

Golf: Today's U.S. Women's Open will be only her second official event since she was badly burned four years ago.

May 30, 1996|From Associated Press

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — Cathy Gerring doesn't want to follow doctor's orders--she wants to play golf.

"The doctor told me if I was a normal person going back to work, he would tell me to work in a climate-controlled environment," said Gerring, who will compete in the U.S. Women's Open starting today. "But I don't have a job like that."

The tournament will be Gerring's second official event since she was badly burned four years ago in a freakish fire in the hospitality tent of the Sara Lee Classic.

She and her husband, Jim, the head pro at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, went to the hospitality tent for lunch. As Gerring was in the buffet line, a caterer tried to refuel a heating burner with denatured alcohol.

Startled that a blue flame was still burning, he jerked back, spilling fuel on Cathy and sending a fireball up her body. Jim tackled her to smother the flames.

"I don't think I ever go through a day when I don't see that fireball. I have no bitterness. So if that's what healing means, then I guess I am," Gerring said. "But I thought I was going to die that day."

Now, Gerring has to choose tournaments according to the weather. The fire destroyed the sweat glands in Gerring's hands and warm weather makes them swell. But cold weather is the only time she feels real pain.

Gerring's hands and face were severely burned. She needed two skin grafts, and she wore gloves to anchor the skin in place for nearly a year.

She also suffered two miscarriages that doctors said were partially caused by the trauma her body experienced after the fire.

Gerring missed the cut earlier this month in the Sprint Titleholders Championship, her first official event since the accident.

"I always thought I would give golf another try," Gerring said. "But there was a time when I thought I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was closed in for so long."

The wounds have healed, and only the photos Gerring brought to Pine Needles this week show the scars on her face.

"I can forgive," she said, "but I can never forget."

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