Lawlor: “Having a disability event at the Masters is definitely achievable”

Ronan MacNamara

Brendan Lawlor (Photo by Alex Burstow/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Dreams of slipping into a Green Jacket inside the Butler Cabin at Augusta National might not be so far away for Brendan Lawlor who feels the G4D Tour can continue to ride the crest of a wave all the way to having a disability golf major championship in tandem with the Masters.

Disability golf broke new ground last year when the R&A hosted the inaugural G4D Open Championship – the sport’s first major – at Woburn last year. Lawlor won the event and will defend his title there next month.

But this week is all about the Masters, it’s arguably golf’s biggest week of the year and in recent years it has turned into a fortnight long festival of golf.

The Augusta National Women’s Amateur has been a fantastic addition and a huge step in the right direction for Augusta in improving their inclusivity and diversity.

The fifth edition was played out to a dramatic conclusion at the weekend as England’s Lottie Woad birdied three of her last four holes including 17 and 18 to win by one and it is a tournament that is only getting stronger each year.

The Drive Chip and Putt competition for children from 7-15 has always been a popular prelude to the Masters tournament and Lawlor sees no reason why disability golf can’t tap into Augusta National’s efforts to be more inclusive and host a G4D major as part of the Masters.

“Watching The Masters as a kid it’s your dream to get to Augusta. Playing golf as an amateur, seven or eight years ago, I would never have thought I’d be at this stage of my career where I’m at now,” said Lawlor who represents Carton House and won the inaugural G4D at the West last week in Co Sligo Golf Club.

Lawlor has played G4D events alongside DP World Tour events and has even appeared in full DP World Tour fields. The G4D Tour will also be going Stateside for the first time at the CJ Cup which will be another milestone for the sport and the Louth man believes it will be another stepping stone to having disability events at the Masters and the other three major championships.

“Having a G4D event at the Masters is definitely something that is achievable and those are words you would have never heard me say five or six years ago, but that just shows where G4D has gone and the next thing is to get it into majors next, the big majors,” he explained.

‘What I love about it is that all the players accept what I do and it’s not a hinderance us being at events, they actually enjoy us being there playing the same sport as them and I think it’s inspiring for them to see.

“You have the Drive Chip and Putt and they have so many side events to the Masters. You’ll never top the Masters and have a bigger event there but to have it like a concert, the women, the disability players to boost the event and get people excited and obviously the big players go out then and see who can win the Green Jacket at the end of the week.”

Alan Gaynor, the Irish Open for Players with a Disability champion agreed with Lawlor and feels having the PGA Tour on board is a massive step for the progression of the G4D Tour and that there is a window to fit in an event as part of the Masters build up.

“I don’t see why not. I know Brendan is going over to America to do the first PGA Tour event for G4D so if the PGA Tour are involved that’s a big step. I can’t see why not in the future there would be a chance to run a small event alongside major championships.

“Augusta is a week long event starting with the women and the Drive Chip and Putt, it’s on TV all the time with SKY and the live at the range stuff so there’s a massive build up to the Masters so I can’t see why they couldn’t squeeze a small tournament into it, it would be amazing, a bit of a pipe dream but it’s great to even be talking about this stuff.”

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