29 Nov 2023 | Australian Open | All Abilities |
Popert ready to defend at Australian All Abilities Championship
by Patrick Taylor
The strongest field ever for the Australian All Abilities Championship, with the top six players on the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) coming from six different countries, is ready to take on the tough course at The Australian Golf Club.
Those top six are joined by Australia's best players to make up a field of 12, with Lachlan Wood and Cameron Pollard the top ranked Aussies.
World No.1, Kipp Popert is back to defend his title after the Englishman took home the trophy in Melbourne last year with a seven-shot victory.
Popert has arrived in Sydney in fantastic form, with three-wins already on the G4D Tour in 2023. His wins came at the British Masters, the ISPS HANDA World Invitational, and the BMW PGA Championship.
Two of those victories were successful defences, and Popert is confident he can make it three back-to-backs in one year this week.
"I'm sometimes a little too confident for my own good I think," Popert laughed.
"I'm quite a happy-go-lucky guy… I love competing, put me anywhere, I don't care what the course is like.
"This one (The Australian) is an absolute treat though. Greens are amazing, the fringes are awesome, the fairways are good. No excuses really."
As the world's leading All Abilities player, Popert is a huge inspiration to not only golfer's around the world, but anyone that interacts with him.
He and the rest of the players here this week are flying the flag high for All Abilities golf.
"We all have a common goal to try and get this as big as we can, and hopefully in the near future make it a career. I think that is important to grow disability golf," he said.
"Kids get inspired by Lionel Messi playing football, and they're sure as hell will get inspired by Juan Postigo hitting it 270."
Postigo is one of Popert's competitor's this week, an amputee who demonstrates his incredible athleticism smashing drivers off one leg.
Popert and Postigo, and all the international All Abilities players here this week are no doubt a huge inspiration to Australia's up and coming players.
"Cam Pollard's awesome, I love that kid… Lachy (Wood), I played with him at the G4D Open, good player," said Popert.
"There's a lot of good things to scream and shout about in Australian All Abilities golf.
"It is the highlight of our year coming all the way over here… it's the best disability event we see all year."
The Australian All Abilities kicks off on Thursday 29/11, and is played over 54-holes, alongside the men's and women's championships.
Follow the scoring HERE.
Australian All Abilities Championship field 2023
World ranking: 1
Bio: The defending champion after a seven-shot win at Victoria Golf Club last year, Kipp has triumphed over cerebral palsy and numerous surgeries to his legs. He has crafted a great career in golf, including a climb to No. 1 in the world in 2021. Kipp has had three wins on the G4D Tour in 2023 and finished second in his two other events.
World ranking: 2
Bio: The man from Dundalk in Ireland is the first All Abilities player to compete in a DP World Tour event. He has lived his life with a bone growth disorder but improved his golf game to the point where he turned professional in 2019. He won this year’s G4D Open at Woburn in England. Finished runner-up in the 2018 AAAC.
Country: United States
World ranking: 3
Bio: As well as competing, Chris is a teaching professional at the Country Club of Birmingham. After graduating from college, he turned to alpine skiing because he felt that he had no further competition potential in golf. That view changed with the growth of golfers with a disability events. Chris has a form of Cerebral Palsy that affects his leg muscles and has produced a Lordosis (spinal curve) in his lower back.
World ranking: 4
Bio: Amputee who has become a global figure in promoting the game of golf and G4D. Demonstrating his remarkable athleticism smashing drives off one leg, Juan has won numerous All Abilities championships and competed in Australia in each addition of the AAAC. Juan was victorious on the G4D Tour in Sweden this year and is second in their Order of Merit.
World ranking: 5
Bio: Canadian star who has twice been runner-up in this event. Born with scoliosis or curvature of the spine, he has been a lifelong golfer in the image of his golf-teacher father. Kurtis has had three runner-up finishes on the G4D Tour in 2023. He was second in the AAAC last year after leading after 36 holes, including a round of 69.
World ranking: 6
Bio: Italian boys’ champion at 16 and took Franceso Molinari to the 18th hole in matchplay before a motorbike accident and subsequent complications from surgery took him away from golf for some years. Later took up coaching and now is focusing on playing as an amputee. His 2023 highlight so far has been a second at the G4D BMW Championship.
World ranking: 15
Bio: Swede who won both the first two versions of this event. Born without some bones in his right leg, he has had to endure a 20-centimetre difference in leg length. He has been a constant force on the All Abilities stage, with four European championships to show for it.
World ranking: 33
Bio: An associate member of the PGA of Australia, Wood grew up on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria before moving to Hervey Bay in Australia. This is his first time contesting the AAAC. At age 16, Lachlan was seriously injured in a single car accident in Rosebud, leading to more than 40 operations on his leg. His left leg is 4cm shorter than his right.
World ranking: 46
Bio: A prolific winner of All-Abilities championship, Pollard, who has managed Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and autism all his life, has established himself as one of Australia’s best. He hails from Sawtell on the NSW Central Coast and was one of the group who played in the first AAAC at an Australian Open in 2018.
World ranking: 58
Bio: A legend of Australian disability sport, Nicholas is a professional who has not only dominated the All-Abilities space and won tournaments all around the world, he has competed strongly against able-bodied golfers, recently qualifying to play the Senior Open Championship. Born with a leg deformity caused by the morning-sickness drug Thalidomide, he had his right leg amputated.
World ranking: 68
Bio: A member at Long Reef in Sydney, Prior lost the bottom of his right arm in a waterskiing accident. After an amputation, Stephen got bored in the hospital, and so discharged himself and within four days was swinging a golf club, going on to become not only a great All Abilities player but one of the sport’s strongest advocates as a former president of Amputee Golf New South Wales and Amputee Golf Australia.
World ranking: 280
Bio: Not long ago Natascha knew nothing about golf and now she is one of Australia’s top-ranked female golfer with a disability. From Wynnum Golf Club, she started her golf in MyGolf at Pacific Golf Club and was a gold medalist in the 2020 Special Olympics Macau Golf Masters and 2023 Special Olympic Games World Games in Berlin. Natascha is on the autism spectrum as well as having Tourette Syndrome and a rare physical disorder called ligamentous laxity.
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