Manuel De Los Santos (European Tour)
For most golfers, making the cut is seen as a necessity rather than an aim – but Manuel De Los Santos is no ordinary golfer.
Simply taking part in the Hauts de France Golf Open against some of Europe’s finest young talents is enough for the Dominican, who tragically lost a leg in a traffic accident in 2003.
De Los Santos was a talented baseball player due to sign a contract with the Major League’s Toronto Blue Jays - but those hopes were cruelly dashed 14 years ago.
At just 18 years old, De Los Santos was looking at an uncertain future, until his wife Elena introduced him to the film The Legend of Bagger Vance.
De Los Santos, an athletic fielder in his heyday, was so inspired that the next day he headed to the driving range. Five years later and he was playing in the Alfred Dunhill
Links Championship with a handicap of three.
Tomorrow the 33 year old will make his first appearance on the European Challenge Tour, and having come so far in such a short space of time, De Los Santos is keen to make the most of his opportunity.
“I have the game to make the cut,” he said. “I have spent one year not worrying about my technique, and I feel that has really helped.
“I met Tiger Woods at the JP McManus Pro-Am a few years ago and I spent about 20 minutes with him where he told me just not to worry when I’m swinging.
“I see it now as you have your technique and I have my technique, and since I have started thinking like that I have been playing a lot better.
“I now have a good system in place so that I enjoy playing at every course. Golf is a difficult game, and sometimes I used to forget why I played – but now I just keep calm if I make a mistake and remember that I love the game.
“Golf has changed my life. Me and my friends who are disabled have to fight for everything, so to be able to play a difficult sport to a high level is a big thing for me.
“Belief is the key in the world. You have to believe in yourself no matter what happens. You know when you are born but you never know when you’re going to die – so you have to fight for everything.”
De Los Santos will certainly have a fight on his hands this week, with Aa Saint Omer Golf Club posing a stern test for all players taking part.
“This week will definitely be difficult,” he said. “You can close your eyes for one second around this course and then when you open them again you are really far behind.
“I am still really excited for this week. I remember 12 years ago when I was lying in bed I never thought I could play golf with one leg. Now to be at a point where I can play on the Challenge Tour is amazing.”