Lawlor welcomes Popert rivalry as new year begins in Abu Dhabi

John Craven

Brendan Lawlor (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

John Craven

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There may be no G4D Irish Open in 2023 but the best disability golfers in the world will return to Irish shores for the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle as part of an expanded calendar of eight tournaments in six countries. 

The 2023 season will see additional uplifts to the G4D Tour, including the introduction of a season-long Order of Merit to crown the Number One player. 

This past year’s inaugural season, which had its finale at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, saw Kipp Popert win four G4D Tour titles and become World Number One on the WR4GD.  

It was a year that promised so much for the man he leapfrogged, Brendan Lawlor, but after the season passed the Carton House man by empty handed, Lawlor’s hungrier than ever to make amends heading into 2023. 

“Kipp’s been unbelievable this year,” Lawlor admits after finishing fourth behind another Popert victory at the season-opener in Australia in December. 

“He’s the most focussed, hard-working lad I’ve ever seen. 

“He shot five-under in Valderrama for two rounds so he’s set a serious standard, but he’s not unbeatable. He is very consistent and he gets the best out of his game but hopefully I can take him down a peg or two next year!  

“I just need to get out of my own way to do it.” 

From the dizzying heights of his own dominant run to the summit of the world golf charts in 2021, Lawlor confessed that he struggled for motivation at times last term as the G4D circuit shifted its schedule from the spotlight of playing between main tour groups on DP World Tour tournament days, to a Monday/Tuesday sideshow that did little to get the juices flowing.  

Add-in no financial incentive for those competing on the G4D Tour and Lawlor says it was a struggle, and an expensive one at that, to get the best out of his golf. 

“It’s been frustrating,” Lawlor says ahead of his return to action this week in Abu Dhabi where Popert is absent from the field but Carton House teammate Conor Stone takes his chance in the desert.

“To go from playing in front of crowds alongside some of the best players in the world to playing in front of nobody at the start of the week has been a bit deflating.  

“The talent on the G4D Tour is incredible and it deserves to be seen. I think you’ll get the very best out of us if we’re playing under the spotlight, and that way we can inspire more people into the game that might previously had considered it impossible. 

“It feels like we’ve gone from the top of the tree to the bottom in the space of a year and I’ve allowed that to affect my game. I just couldn’t get it going at all and that’s something I’m going to have to work hard on over winter. 

“Kipp’s obviously dominated during that period as well and the fact I didn’t get over the line and win probably adds to that frustration.  

“That gives me something to aim for heading into the new year though and I’m excited to get up and running in Abu Dhabi for the Hero Cup and hopefully get back into the winners’ circle.” 

For now though, Lawlor is feeling lucky to escape a wild Irish winter ahead of the two day tournament that’s played over Friday and Saturday alongside the stars of the GB&I and European Hero Cup teams.

“It’s an unreal place, everything looks really good,” said Lawlor.

“We walked the course yesterday and have a practice round booked in for today. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s a really nice course. It’s a lot better being over here with the warm weather than being home in Ireland right now. I’m feeling blessed.”

“We’re mixing with these guys on the putting green and hitting off the same range. There’s a camaraderie between the G4D Tour guys and the DP World Tour pros, we’re building friendships and I think that’s important.”

  • Full G4D scoring HERE

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