The G4D Open Was Inspiring For All Golfers
IN LAST week’s View From The Fairway I told you about how the social media trolls have attempted to make like a misery for disabled golfer Brendan Lawlor.
This week I want to focus on some of the incredible individuals who have been playing in The G4D Open at Woburn.
The quality of golf was quite exceptional.
Brendan Lawlor claimed the inaugural G4D Open title after a nervy final-round showdown with England's Kipp Popert at Woburn's Duchess Course.
Lawlor, second in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability, hit a three-over-par 75 to finish three over.
Top-ranked Popert, who began round three a shot back, led by one after nine holes but bogeyed three of his last six in a 76 for a five-over total.
Juan Postigo Arce of Spain finished third on eight over after a 74.
American Kim Moore, who won the US Adaptive Open at Pinehurst last year, was the leading woman. The 42-year-old, who was born without a right foot and a clubbed left foot, finished joint 28th - four shots ahead of Ireland's Fiona Gray.
But perhaps the most remarkable performance of all came from Italy’s Stefano Palmieri, who shot rounds of 127, 125 and 127. What makes those scores all the more remarkable is the fact that Palmieri is blind.
You don’t need me to tell you how difficult this sport is for able-bodied golfers. The men and women who competed at Woburn are nothing short of inspirational - and a shining example to us all.
(Image Credit: The R&A)
Imagine losing your leg in a traffic accident at the age of 50. That’s exactly what happened to Mike Jones in 2015. At the time he was a keen amateur golfer with a two handicap. He is now 57, plays off scratch and is dreaming of qualifying for the Senior Open Championship.
"I am a golfer," he says, "who happens to have a disability."
Jones, from Pontypool, admits that there were dark days in the aftermath but now says: "I look at my accident and think it's the best thing that happened to me. It's a crazy, crazy statement, but it's so true.
"Obviously it would be great if I had my leg again. But if I'd had the accident and still had my leg, I don't know whether it would have changed the way I perceive things or approach things.
"This totally changed my perception on what's important, what we need to move forward and how to be positive."
An electrical engineer, he was on his way to work when he was knocked off his motorbike, crushing his left leg below the knee. Worse than that, his pelvis snapped in half and he nearly bled to death at the side of the road.
As he lay in hospital in tears as he pondered his future, a double amputee told Jones he could either lie in bed feeling sorry for himself or get on with his life.
He chose the latter option.
Then there is Popert, who was born with a form of cerebral palsy called spastic diplegia. He spent much of his early life in hospital enduring a series of painful operations but now dreams of winning a mainstream tournament on the DP World Tour.
"Those getting into the game need something to aspire to and that is what I'm trying to achieve. It doesn't matter what your disability is," he said.
Kris Aves is a 41-year-old former Metropolitan Police officer who was injured in the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge in March 2017.
He was paralysed from the waist down after being struck by the attacker's car and spent 10 months at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
"Going through my rehab in hospital, there were three things I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to do properly again," said Aves. "One was that I didn't think I'd ever play golf again.”
However, he was encouraged to try a ParaGolfer - a special mobility device that lifts people from a sitting to a standing position.
"I got inside and was able to make a swing," he said. "That first hit brought tears to my eyes. Even though I knew I'd never get back to the standard I had been, I was able to play again.”
A fundraising day at his local pub helped him buy his own.
Fiona Gray, from Northern Ireland, spent 20 years in the Army but had to resign because of debilitating knee problems.
After 10 operations, she is the St Patrick's Lady Captain, a familiar face at EDGA events and winner of the Rose Ladies Series in Yorkshire last month.
The GD4 Tour launched in February 2022 and now has a schedule of nine tournaments which run alongside DP World Tour events, at the same course on the same week.
It focusses on inclusivity, making space for every player and aiming to inspire more people with disabilities to pursue golf.
Each and every single one of these individuals has faced some huge challenges and deserve everything they get back from this wonderful game of ours.
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Tags: G4D Open european tour dp world tour Disabled Golf