The 2023 G4D Tour season gets under way this week with a 12-player field competing at the Australian All Abilities Championship @ the ISPS HANDA Australian Open.
Winners from 2022 Kipp Popert, Mike Browne and Tommaso Perrino are all in action this week along with two-time winner of this event Johan Kammerstad and fellow G4D Tour regulars Kurtis Barkley, Brendan Lawlor and Juan Postigo Arce.
Joining those seven are five players making their G4D Tour debuts and here, we get to know them a little better.
World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) - 15
The 61-year-old is a right-leg amputee who was born with deformity due to Thalidomide - a drug used to combat morning sickness in expectant mothers. A keen sports fan in a youth that saw him bullied in the early years of his education, he started playing golf with his brother and a friend, joining The Lakes Golf Course in Sydney and dropping his handicap from nine to scratch in five years. He earned his Australian Tour card in 1992 and in 1996 shot lower than Tiger Woods in the first round of the Australian Open. He did all this while dominating the amputee game, winning both the British and US Open every year from 1990 to 2002. Nicholas played in the 2019 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Lytham & St Annes after earning his place in Monday Qualifying.
WR4GD - 20
Pollard is on the Autistic Spectrum, has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - a condition that causes his joints to dislocate - a rare genetic bowel condition called Hirschsprung’s Disease which has resulted in him having his bowel removed and has been diagnosed with Panic Disorder. He was first given a plastic golf club by his grandmother but soon took the opportunity to play with a real set of clubs at Sawtell Golf Club in New South Wales with his dad Scott. He has competed at the Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters and in 2018 was the Special Olympics National Games Champion. He played at this event in 2018 and 2019 and is a prolific competitor, with this his tenth Ranking event of 2022. Pollard is also a trained community instructor.
WR4GD - 29
Prior lost his right hand in a water skiing incident at the age of 17, ending his days of playing tennis and Australian Rules Football. He discharged himself from hospital following his amputation and within four days was swinging a golf club, beginning a process that would change a hobby into a passion. After playing largely against able-bodied golfers, he helped form Amputee Golf Australia and later became its president, while playing in the first two editions of this event, and this will be his fifth Ranking event of the year.
Mette Wegge Lynggaard
WR4GD - 49
Wegge Lynggaard has cerebral palsy which affects the left side of her body but that has not stopped her becoming an elite athlete in two sports. The 38-year-old has represented Denmark at both swimming and golf, wearing her nation’s colours on several occasions in both the team and individual events at the European Championship For Golfers With Disability. She began playing golf at 13 but stopped playing for 12 years before rediscovering her passion and this year she helped her country finish seventh in the European Team Championship For Golfers With Disability.
WR4GD - 61
Rolls was in Tasmania with his Australian Rules Football team-mates when he was struck down with meningococcal septicaemia at the age of 18. He was given just a five per cent chance of survival at one point and his parents rushed from Melbourne to the hospital, where Rolls had three bleeds to the brain which left him in a coma for five and a half weeks. When he awoke, his right leg was amputated at the knee, half his left foot had to be guillotined, two fingers were lost, and his nose was damaged. Nine years later, he took the choice to also have his troubling left leg amputated. Rolls, now a motivational speaker and published author, credits golf - which he first played as a boy and then had to learn to play again twice after the loss of each leg - with playing a huge part in his recovery and has played in four Ranking events so far this season.