Lukas Tintera was told as a child he would never walk, but not only did he defy the doctors, he became a professional golfer who this week becomes the first Czech player to compete on the Challenge Tour.
A severe problem with his right hip joint meant Lukas, now 27, was in a wheelchair between the age of four and nine years old, and his doctors told him he would probably never walk on his own. But the problem gradually disappeared as he grew, and as he developed more strength his father decided some light physical activity would help.
“My father was a very good tennis player,” said Tintera, who received an invitation from the Challenge Tour to play in this week’s Barclays Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club. “But he wanted me to take up a sport with low impact on my joints, so he settled on golf. He helped me all through my childhood and has been a huge part of my career.
“I was part of the Under-15 national squad and played for my country for eight or nine years before I turned professional in 2009. I’ve played the past few seasons on the EPD Tour and in local tournaments in the Czech Republic. I’ve also been studying for a masters degree in Prague.
“It has been quite hard and last year I decided to do some teaching to fund my playing. But this year I have sponsorship which makes things much easier. Playing golf is the best job so I’m grateful to be able to do it.
“It’s just great to be out here and I’m hoping to make the most of this opportunity. It would be great to have a few more chances to play on the Challenge Tour this season and see where it takes me.”
Tintera has played one Challenge Tour event previously, in the 2009 DHL Wroclaw Open in Poland – he qualified through his national order of merit - and is still becoming accustomed to life as a touring professional.
“My luggage didn’t arrive on Monday, but my clubs did so they are the most important thing. I guess all the travelling is one of the things you have to get used to. I had to go into the pro shop here to buy myself some shirts and trousers. Hopefully my suitcase will turn up some time this week otherwise I’ll have to buy some more clothes.”
As for the course at Muthaiga, Tintera said: “It’s very different from what I’m used to and the high altitude means you hit it miles further than usual, so that takes a bit of getting used to.
“The course is tough as it’s quite tight. I’m not putting huge expectations on myself – I’ll take whatever because I’m just out here to do the best I can and learn from the experience.
“The problems I had as a kid are so long ago that I forget how far I’ve come. I don’t even really think about it now. I’m a Catholic and I really believe in fate and destiny. It was meant to be that I recovered and found a talent for golf.”