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Inside the week with the EDGA

Some of the world's top golfers with disability are experiencing what life is like for the professionals this week as they prepare to tee it up at the EDGA Dubai Finale, which will be played in conjunction with the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Adem Wahbi

The event is the conclusion of the 2021 EDGA European Tour, a series of events which saw 16 players compete across the UK Swing to earn their place at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

The season kicked off at the EDGA Cazoo Open, with Brendan Lawlor lifting the trophy.

Lawlor was also victorious the following week as he hosted the ISPS HANDA World Disability Invitational , with Tomasso Perrino, Felix Norrman and Mike Browne finishing second, third and fourth respectively at both events to earn their places in Dubai.

Kipp Popert was then the winner at the EDGA Hero Open, with Chris Biggins and Adem Wahbi finishing in a tie for second ahead of Kurtis Barkley.

Chris Biggins

Biggins was then the man on the top step of the podium at the EDGA Cazoo Classic, with Popert finishing second and Barkley third, with Wahbi finishing fourth and earning his spot at this week's event.

On Friday and Saturday, the eight qualifiers will play 36 holes over the Earth Course to decide who will be crowned the season's champion but first they get to experience everything that goes with being a professional golfer.

After flying into Dubai, Biggins and Wahbi put on a clinic for the fans, hitting shots and showcasing their ability along with special guest Ian Poulter.

The 12 time European Tour winner played shots off a balance ball and off his knees to get a feel for what it is like playing golf with a disability, before the EDGA stars did some media duties.

Then it was time for a practice round over the same course the professionals will be facing at this week's DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

"The week has been great so far," said Wahbi, who has Cerebral Palsy. "I’ve been chatting to some of the Belgian golfers such as Thomas Pieters - and we had some bets. Seeing all the big players out there is amazing. They work so hard.

We’re being treated like the professionals playing the DP World Tour Championship which is pretty cool - Kurtis Barkley

"I’m just here to win. It’s funny, all these media interviews, I love doing them but I’m here to win and that’s it.

"The partnership between the EDGA and the European Tour is amazing. It brings a bigger stage for us to play on and I think the Tour players are happy to see us and happy to see new faces. 

"They’re able to see what we’re able to do. We can learn a lot from them but they’re also able to learn a lot from us too, so I think it’s really interesting for both sides."

Biggins described his victory at the EDGA Cazoo Classic as a "dream come true" and was delighted that golfers with disability were now getting the chance to show the world what they can do.

"The partnership between the two Tours is incredible," said the PGA teaching professional, who also has Cerebral Palsy.

"It started in 2019 and since then it’s given us something massive to play for, which helps us not only enjoy these weeks but in the years leading up to it.

Chris Biggins and Kurtis Barkley

"The reward we’re getting for the work we’ve put into it over the years, that we never got before, is just huge. It’s massive to get the opportunity to play on this stage and it gives us so much to work towards. 

"The rewards are huge but it’s tough for us to get into as we’re often discouraged. Once you break through that barrier and learn to play golf your way then the rewards are enormous. 

"It’ll be one of the greatest things you’ve ever done. It’s made my life. I’d recommend anyone to try it even if you fail. I’ve failed eight million times on the way here. Test yourself, let yourself fail, then you’ll be surprised just how far you can go."

Canadian Barkley was born with a curvature of the spine called scoliosis and he admits he would never have imagined growing up that he would find himself on this stage.

"We’re being treated like the professionals playing the DP World Tour Championship which is pretty cool," he said.

"It’s completely unbelievable to think back to when I was younger with a disability playing golf to think that I could play on some kind of Tour and be on the big stage. To be here doing it is unbelievable. It’s awesome that this stuff now happens."

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