Paralympic golfer Tommaso Perrino has said that the opportunity to tee up at the Italian Open for the first time is both 'amazing' and a 'gift'.
Tommaso Perrino was Italy's next golfing superstar when his dreams were shattered aged 16.
The incident altered Perrino's life, limiting the functionality of one leg following a road accident and subsequent infection contracted in hospital during his rehabilitation.
"I was the Italian champion when I was 16, and I broke my leg in an accident," Perrino said.
"Everything was good, and then I got an infection in the hospital and it never go back. I said that my life is finished."
Yet his love of the game never wavered, and the now 36-year-old both coaches and is currently ranked fifth in the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD). Last year, he was triumphant in Parma at the 2019 Italian Open Disabled, and is part of The Ryder Cup 2023 Project focusing on social inclusion.
"I've come back to a new life of golf. I teach, I play some tournaments."
And last week, Perrino was offered an opportunity he never expected: To play in the Italian Open.
"Five or six days ago I was teaching on a course, and they tell me that 'you are playing in the Italian Open'.
"I said really? Unbelievable,
"I wouldn't think that I would do that in my life, but the present that the Federation and the European Tour has given me is unbelievable."
Paired with England's Ben Evans and Scotland's Liam Johnston, Perrino carded three bogeys and a birdie for a first round 75, and called the experience of teeing up in his national Open 'amazing'.
"Today for me was an amazing day," he said.
"I started to practice a lot in the last three or four days because I haven't played very often because of COVID.
"I played well. I didn't start that well because there was a lot of pressure. I hope for other players in my situation to have the same experience. For me it feels like I am sleeping and it never happened."