Modest Golf professional Brendan Lawlor is ready to make the most of a surprise invite to the DP World Tour’s ISPS Handa Championship in Japan from April 20-23.
One of the world’s leading disability golfers, Lawlor is no stranger to the main tour having made history as the first disabled golfer to compete on the European Tour at The Belfry in 2020.
Now a regular contender for titles on the G4D Tour, Lawlor admits he thought his days competing alongside the world’s best had gone before accepting an invite to Japan from one of his long-time supporters, ISPS Handa.
“I was very shocked to get the call,” Lawlor said.
“When the G4D stuff came in I thought that would cut us off from all DP World Tour starts and the Challenge Tour opportunities but they’re still open to give us a shot which is great to see.
“I’m very lucky to get the opportunity but hopefully it gives the other guys the confidence to get in as well and showcase what we can do.”
History suggests Lawlor’s latest appearance rubbing shoulders with the stars of the DP World Tour should have a domino effect for his fellow G4D members.
When Lawlor teed up at the ISPS Handa Championship for that history-making occasion at The Belfry, he broke down doors for another disability golfer in Tommaso Perrino to do the same a few weeks later at the Italian Open.
Indeed, Lawlor has spearheaded the Disability Golf movement since bursting on the scene and despite being knocked off top spot on the rankings by serial winner, Kipp Popert, it was a heart-warming hat-tip to the Louth man’s work when he earned the only call-up to represent Disability Golf later this month in Japan.
“This is a massive event and I’m the only one there so it means a lot,” Lawlor said.
“ISPS Handa really wanted to have me there and I’m obviously delighted. To have the support of the sponsors to extend an invite like that means absolutely everything to me so hopefully I can go over there and make a good go of it.”
While resisting the urge to set expectations too high so early in his season, Lawlor’s long harboured a goal of making the cut at a regular tour event and he’s quietly confident about giving that target a scare in Japan.
“Big time! You only have very few chances to do it because you might only get one or two starts in two years,” Lawlor explained.
“You need to put so much hard work in and literally put all of your game on the plate and try and go low as early as possible.
“But because we don’t get many of these chances, I want to go out and enjoy it. I’m not going to put pressure on myself to perform. If I can beat 10 or 15 of the tour players I’ll be happy, and any more is just a bonus.”
Ordinarily the strength of his game, Lawlor has struggled on the greens of late but with his ball-striking purer than ever after a productive off-season, he feels a change in fortune with the flat-stick could prove the catalyst to a big week at PGM Ishioka GC.
“I put a lot of work in over the winter and it’s paying off,” Lawlor added.
“My ball-striking and driving off the tee has become very competitive in the pro ranks but what’s letting me down recently is my putting.
“I missed the cut by two last week at a PGA event in Spain and I’d ten three putts. The greens were rapid but still, that’s a lot of putts in two days!
“I was very good tee to green though so if I can get my putting sorted and put a solid two rounds together, I feel like I could maybe make the cut in Japan.”
Whatever happens, Lawlor’s larger than life presence in the land of the rising sun is sure to shine a light on all that is great about Disability Golf.
Lawlor plays the first two rounds in the company of Andy Sullivan and Romain Langasque. Also in the field from an Irish point of view is Gary Hurley and Tom McKibbin.
- Full tee-times HERE
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