Dundalk man Brendan Lawlor dug deep to secure a two-stroke victory at the first ever G4D Open held at Woburn’s Duchess Course as he held off the challenge of world number one Kipp Poppert.
Rounds of 70 and 74 saw Lawlor, born with a rare condition called Ellis–van Creveld syndrome, characterised by a shorter stature and shorter limbs, take a one stroke lead over Poppert into the third and final round, but in difficult cold conditions, three bogeys in the opening five holes saw Lawlor surrender his lead, and when Poppert birdied the par-5 sixth hole, the Irishman trailed by two.
Anybody who knows anything about Lawlor knows that he’s not the sort to throw in the towel, and he battled back, and courtesy of a birdie on 10, drew level.
Now effectively a two-horse race, Lawlor’s ice-cool nerve served him well down the stretch as Poppert bogeyed the 13th and 15th holes to see the world number two pull two clear. Though Lawlor would drop a shot of his own on 16, he’d par his way home and when Poppert could only bogey the closing hole, it would be Lawlor’s name that would go in the history books and the pereptual plate and crystal would find a new home across the Irish sea, with fellow countrymen Conor Stone coming fourth and Alan Gaynor notching a top-10 finish.
“It’s just an unbelievable feeling,” Lawlor said afterwards. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve put so much hard work into my game the last few months and it’s been trending really well. I just couldn’t get it over the line last year, so it’s been a while since I’ve been in the winner’s circle. I’m proud of myself just to get it done, really happy. I didn’t hit it well all day but I made a lot of clutch putts on the front nine.
“Niall (Horan) has supported me from day one. I’ve been with the guys for four years at Modest Golf!. For a disability golfer, they never treat me differently than anyone else. I’m proud to be a part of that team and hopefully we can get more wins.
“It’s been an incredible week. The volunteers, The R&A, DP World Tour, EDGA, everybody involved has put in so much work to get this championship done. Every player here, we felt like royalty this week. Hopefully this is the start and we’re going to have many more of these major events. Disability golf is definitely on the way up.”
“It was great fun,” said Poppert, who was born with a form of Cerebral Palsy called Spastic Diplegia and has won five times on the G4D Tour in 2022/23. “I mean this is the first-ever G4D Open and to be in contention I played really well.”
“Brendan deserves it,” he added with grace, “and I couldn’t be happier for him. I holed a lot of good putts and my short game was good this week. Basically it was just one of those days where Brendan beat me. I’m still very happy.”
A field of 80 male and female amateur and professional golfers competed over 54 holes at Woburn across sport classes which cover various categories in Standing, Intellectual, Visual and Sitting.
American Kim Moore – who triumphed in the US Adaptive Open at Pinehurst last year – was the leading female at Woburn, finishing four shots ahead of Ireland’s Fiona Gray.
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