The Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open was honoured by the presence on Pro-Am day of an inspirational figure, Winter Paralympic Games gold medallist Vincent Gauthier, who won three medals in Sochi last March.
The Frenchman was playing the Pro-Am as a guest of HandiGolf, an association founded in 1993 to provide a structured and competitive system for disabled golfers in France.
It is a sport which has grown rapidly in the central European nation and one which has been heavily supported by Jean-Jacques Durand, the President of Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, host venue for this week’s event.
Gauthier, who took up golf just two years ago, played alongside the first winner of the 2014 Challenge Tour season, Barclays Kenya Open champion Jake Roos, and thoroughly enjoyed his day on the links.
“I really enjoyed today because it was my first time playing an event like this and also my first time in Saint Omer,” said Gauthier, who won the Men’s Giant Slalom, earned a silver medal in the Men’s Slalom and a bronze medal in the Men’s Downhill at Sochi in March.
“I'm not very good at golf, I'm a skier! But it is coming and it’s only my second year playing the game. I'm going to try and get better.
“A lot of skiers like golfing, I don’t know why. Maybe because they are both so mentally challenging. It is good to be always alert and questioning yourself every time you stand up to a shot.
“The coordination with the top half of the body and the bottom is very important so they are similar in that way too. You have to feel everything around you, be aware of all of your surroundings in golf so that is also similar to skiing.
“Jake is a very nice guy. He was a good captain for the team. He made some mistakes today but his race starts tomorrow in the first round.”
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