Ahead of the G4D @ Horizon Irish Open - the third event of the inaugural G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour season - we profile the ten-strong field set to compete at Mount Juliet Estate from June 27-28.
The G4D Tour has so far been dominated by World Number Two Kipp Popert, who lifted the trophy at both the G4D @ Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett and at the second event of the season in Hamburg.
After the week in Kilkenny, there will be the G4D @ ISPS HANDA World Invitational, G4D @ BMW PGA Championship and G4D @ Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters.
The season will then culminate at the G4D Tour @ DP World Tour Championship in Dubai ahead of the final Rolex Series event of 2022, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai where the qualifiers from the previous six events will compete at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 14-15.
Six of the world’s top ten from the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) ‘Gross’ are due to tee it up in Ireland but can any of them stop Popert making it a hat-trick? Here, we take a look at the field.
Disability: Short stature
Lawlor was born with rare bone disorder Ellis-Van Creveld Syndrome, characterised by a shorter stature and shorter limbs.
Since playing in his first EDGA event at the end of 2017, Lawlor has won a host of titles, including back-to-back victories at the EDGA Cazoo Open and ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by Brendan Lawlor in August last year to become World Number One in the WR4GD (Gross Ranking) before he ended 2021 with a four-stroke victory at the EDGA Dubai Finale.
The Irishman, who turned professional in 2019, also made his full DP World Tour debut in the UK Championship at The Belfry in August 2020.
Disability: Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Having been born ten weeks premature, Popert was later diagnosed with a form of CP called Spastic diplegia that affects his lower body, and he underwent complex surgeries to restructure his right foot in 2016 and then his left foot in 2018.
A final round bogey-free six-under-par 66 at Fairmont St Andrews saw Popert win the EDGA Hero Open last August and replace Lawlor at the top of the world rankings, before he finished tied third behind the Irishman in the 2021 EDGA season finale in Dubai.
Popert, who has a degree in Business Management and Golf from the University of Birmingham, was the World Number One when the DP World Tour announced the launch of the G4D Tour in February and has won the opening two events
Disability: Right leg dysmelia
Postigo was born without much of his right leg and no knee, but since starting to play golf aged 12 has gone on to become World Number Three in the WR4GD.
He defended his individual men’s title European Championship for Golfers with Disability in 2021, after the biennial event was cancelled in 2020.
Born in the same part of Northern Spain as Seve Ballesteros, Postigo claimed the top prizes in both the Gross and Nett divisions as the European Disabled Golf Association kicked off its 2022 campaign with the Vilamoura Open in February.
Barkley, born with a curvature of the spine, was one of eight golfers with a disability who qualified to play in two EDGA tournaments, on the same courses and on the same days as DP World Tour events in 2021.
Across his participation in the EDGA Hero Open and then at the EDGA Cazoo Classic at London Golf Club the week after, he finished third to qualify for the Dubai Finale last year.
During his 2019 season on the EDGA tour, he had five top-three results in six tournaments, including winning the Ontario Disabilities Championship, and finishing third at the U.S. Disabled Open, the Canadian Amputee and Disabled National Open and the United States Adaptive Golf Alliance International Para-Golf Competition in Las Vegas.
The Italian suffered a scooter accident, limiting the functionality of one leg, when he was 17 in 2001 but has since gone on to become one of EDGA’s leading players, currently ranked sixth in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability.
Perrino, who was the Italian champion aged 16, is a head coach at the Cosmopolitan Golf & Country Club in Tuscany, the club where he grew up playing the sport.
He finished runner-up at the inaugural EDGA Cazoo Open at The Celtic Manor Resort last year and has played at the 2020 and 2021 Italian Open as an invitee of the DP World Tour.
Disability: Above knee amputee
Browne suffered a broken left leg during a routine training exercise serving for the Royal Artillery unit in 2011, but the injury had not healed almost two years later due to a rare infection which led him to undergo amputation two years later.
Since taking up golf as an Army amputee, he has turned professional and now sits tenth in the WR4GD.
Last season, he finished fourth at both the EDGA Cazoo Open and ISPS HANDA World Disability Invitational to secure his place at the Dubai Finale, played over 36 holes at the Earth Course.
Disability: Right leg amputee
Smith was studying for his PGA degree when, at the age of 22, he lost his right leg from the knee to a rare form of bone cancer. The father of two would resume his golf, however, starting with a 5.4 handicap which he reduced to 0.2 through hours on the practice range.
Back in competition, he has brought his A-Game to EDGA tournaments in 2022, most notably delivering a seven-shot win in the PING Open for Golfers with a Disability in mid-June.
Ready to make his debut on the G4D Tour, the 27-year-old is knocking on the door of the top 10 of the WR4GD, climbing to 11th after his recent victory.
Disability: Leg impairment
A promising junior cross-country skiier, Lia fell 27 metres on the slopes when he was 12 and suffered back, hip, pelvis and leg injuries. Realising his cross-country days were over, he took up golf at the course where his father worked.
Back in April he finished in a narrow second place in the EDGA Pas de Calais Paragolf Open in France, followed by a third place in the Italian Open for Disabled in May, before helping his national team Sweden to finish second in the European Team Championship in June.
Now up to 16th in the WR4GD, he is eagerly awaiting his G4D debut.
Disability: Right leg amputee
Gardiner needed an amputation of his lower right leg after a freak accident with another pedestrian in the street when walking from his greengrocer’s shop in 2005.
Following surgery and recovery, he returned to the game he had always loved and started playing in EDGA events in 2011. He competed in more than 30 international tournaments and was ranked at the top of the then EDGA Order of Merit.
After recent time away from international golf, his comeback starting in 2021 has been impressive. Currently 19th in the WR4GD, in June he proudly represented England in the European Team Championship in Belgium. Next, he is relishing his debut on the G4D Tour, calling his qualification “a wonderful moment” in his golfing career.
Daphne van Houten
A routine physical screening at just 12 years old found a life-changing issue in van Houten’s back, yet she became the first woman to break into the top ten of the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability in mid-2019.
The Dutch golfer became the first female golfer to participate competitively in the first of five 36-hole tournaments – the EDGA Cazoo Open – that formed part of the EDGA Tour in 2021.
Van Houten, who is the leading women’s player on the WR4GD at 17th, retained the European Championship for Golfers with Disability title last summer with a 15-stroke victory in Portugal.