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G4D Tour @ Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters - Player profiles

G4D Tour @ Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters - Player profiles

Ahead of the G4D Tour @ Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters - the sixth and penultimate event of the inaugural G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour season - we profile the ten-strong field set to compete at Real Club Valderrama from Monday October 10 - Tuesday October 11.

Juan Postigo

The G4D Tour arrives in Spain with ten of the top 11 players in the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) set to tee it up at the sixth event of the season.

This week in Andalucía is the final chance to seize one of the ten places available for the Series Finale at the G4D Tour @ DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on November 18-19 ahead of the final Rolex Series event of 2022, the DP World Tour Championship.

World Number Two Kipp Popert kicked off his season in style, winning the opening two events, the G4D Tour @ Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett and the G4D Tour @ Porsche European Open.

He then made it a hat-trick of victories last time out at the G4D @ BMW PGA Championship to rack up three wins from five events.

Fellow Englishman Mike Browne broke Popert’s early-season dominance with a win at the G4D Tour @ Horizon Irish Open before Italian Tommaso Perrino claimed a commanding five-shot victory at the G4D Tour @ ISPS Handa World Invitational Presented by Aviv Clinics in Northern Ireland.

Here, we take a closer look at the field vying to win this week at Valderrama.

Brendan Lawlor

Age: 25

Nationality: Irish

Disability: Short stature

Brendan Lawlor-1414039950

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 claimed 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 before he ended 2021 with a four-stroke victory at the EDGA Dubai Finale.

The Irishman, who turned professional in 2019 and made his full DP World Tour debut in the UK Championship at The Belfry in August 2020, lost in a play-off to Popert at the G4D Tour @ Porsche European Open, one of three second-place finishes this season.

Kipp Popert

Age: 24

Nationality: English

Disability: Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Kipp Popert-1414039874

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 won the opening two events before adding another triumph at Wentworth Club.

Juan Postigo

Age: 26

Nationality: Spanish

Disability: Right leg dysmelia

Juan Postigo-1413819789

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 European Championship for Golfers with Disability title 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 and will be eager to seal a win on home soil after a second and a third on the G4D Tour.

Chris Biggins

Age: 30

Nationality: American

Disability: Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Chris Biggins-1395171526

Biggins claimed a maiden EDGA DP World Tour victory at the EDGA Cazoo Classic in August last year to book his place in the season-ending finale in Dubai.

Victory saw him become the first American to win an EDGA DP World Tour title as he carded a level par 72 on the final day - the best round of the tournament.

Biggins, who won the US Disabled Open Golf Championship in 2019, works as director of player development at The Country Club of Birmingham in Alabama and is also a competitive Alpine skier with a long-standing aim of representing the United States at both the summer and winter Paralympics.

Tommaso Perrino

Age: 38

Nationality: Italian

Disability: Orthopaedic

Perrino -1413812576

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 fifth 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 has played at the 2020 and 2021 Italian Open as an invitee of the DP World Tour and won this season's G4D Tour event in Northern Ireland.

Mike Browne

Age: 44

Nationality: English

Disability: Above knee amputee

Mike Browne-1405681814

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 sixth in the WR4GD with a first G4D Tour victory to his name after he cruised to a four-shot win at Mount Juliet Estate in June.

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.

Kurtis Barkley

Age: 34

Nationality: Canadian

Disability: Scoliosis

Kurtis Barkley-1405644644

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. The Canadian lost in a three-man play-off at the start of the 2022 G4D Tour season at The Belfry.

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.

Rasmus Lia

Age: 21

Nationality: Swedish

Disability: Leg impairment

Rasmus Lia

A promising junior cross-country skier, 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 eighth in the WR4GD, he is making his third G4D appearance.

Bradley Smith

Age: 28

Nationality: English

Disability: Right leg amputee

Bradley Smith-1414039861

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.

After making his debut on the G4D Tour at Galgorm Castle in Northern Ireland, he now finds himself in the top 10 of the WR4GD.

David Watts

Age: 35

Nationality: South Africa

Disability: Fibular hemimelia

David Watts-1413820147

Watts, from Durban in KwaZulu Natal, was born with a condition where the ‘calf bone’ in his left leg failed to develop. Three times by the age of 16, complex procedures to lengthen his leg by a total of 23cm would each need a year or so of painful treatment.

He joined Durban Country Club as a 10-year-old, needing to patiently build a left-handed swing to accommodate his weaker leg.

Playing off a handicap of +0.4, Watts recently burst into the top 10 of the WR4GD after victories in the EDGA Ebotse Links Disabled Open, the EDGA Irene CC Disabled Open, and EDGA KwaZulu Natal Disabled Open. He also enjoyed a top-25 finish in the US Adaptive Open at Pinehurst in July.

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