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World class field for All Abilities Championship

by Golf Australia

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A world class field including eight athletes from overseas has been named for the groundbreaking Australian All Abilities Championship, to be played as a pivotal part of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in Melbourne this December. Golf Australia today announced the 12 players to tee it up in the AAAC at Victoria Golf Club in the Melbourne sandbelt from 1-4 December. They include newly ranked world No. 1 Kipp Popert from the United Kingdom, and five of the top six rated All Abilities players in the world. Four Australians – Geoff Nicholas, Stephen Prior, Cameron Pollard and Mike Rolls – will carry home country hopes in the event. Christian Hamilton, Golf Australia’s Programs and Inclusion Senior Manager, said the field was stronger than the last AAAC in 2019. “It will be one of the strongest fields ever assembled in one of these events,” said Hamilton. “We’re delighted with the players who’ve agreed to come and we know that they’re excited about the fact that it’s being played within the Australian Open. "For the players to get a fully integrated championship experience within an Australian Open is unprecedented with the men’s and women’s national Opens. It’s something they’ve never experienced. They’ll be right in the thick of it.” World No. 2 Brendan Lawlor from Ireland and the charismatic Spaniard Juan Postigo Arce, ranked No. 4 in the world, are both coming to compete. Irishman Lawlor, 24, is a professional golfer with a rare condition known as Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, who in 2020 became the first person with a disability to compete in a full DP World Tour event, the ISPS HANDA UK Championship. He shot 84-82 to miss the cut. Lawlor was runner-up in the inaugural AAAC at The Lakes in 2018. The top 10 positions in the field were taken from world rankings. The two invitations offered to fill the final places were snapped up by world No. 10 and twice winner of the AAAC, Johan Kammerstad of Sweden, and Denmark's Mette Wegge Lynggaard who will be the only woman in the field. Rising Italian professional Tommaso Perrino, currently ranked world No.5 and one of the most exciting players to emerge in the All Abilities field, will make his first appearance in an Australian event. The Australian contingent is headed by No. 12 ranked Geoff Nicholas, a PGA Professional from Sydney who has been a dominant force in amputee golf for many years. The ISPS HANDA Australian Open is proudly supported by the Victorian Government through Visit Victoria.  First played in 1904, the Australian Open has a rich history, and this is the first time ever that the event has been played in its new format with men, women and All Abilities players competing together on the same courses at the same time. The Australian All Abilities Championship was first played in 2018 at The Lakes in Sydney, and again with success in 2019 at The Australian, each time alongside the men’s Open. It has been on pause in the last two years because of the tournament cancellations caused by the pandemic. This year it resumes as part of the remodelled Open format in the Melbourne sandbelt, where the men’s and women’s tournaments will take place at Victoria and Kingston Heath Golf Clubs. The All Abilities Championship will be played at Victoria on the second, third and fourth days of the tournament. Tickets, Hospitality and VIP Experiences are on sale at   Australian All Abilities Championship field 2022 Kipp Popert  Country: UK World ranking: 1 Age: 24 Bio: Has triumphed over cerebral palsy and numerous surgeries to his legs by crafting a great career in golf, including a climb to No. 1 in the world in 2021. Brendan Lawlor  Country: Ireland Age: 24 World ranking: 2 Bio: The man from Dundalk in Ireland has become the best All Abilities player in the world, and become the first All Abilities player to compete in a DP World Tour event. Has lived his life with a bone growth disorder but has now turned professional. Finished runner-up in the 2018 AAAC. Juan Postigo Arce  Country: Spain Age: 26 World ranking: 4 Bio: Amputee who is almost as famous for theatrically hurling his prosthetic right leg away and smashing drives off his remaining leg as he is for his golf. He he has won numerous All Abilities championships and competed in Australia before. Tommaso Perrino Country: Italy World ranking: 5 Age: 38 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. Mike Browne Country: England World ranking: 6 Age: 44 Bio: Amputee who has bloomed in golf after a training accident while he was with the Royal Artillery Gunners and numerous subsequent surgeries until he had his left leg amputated in 2013. Turned professional in 2016 and has been a regular visitor to Australia for All Abilities golf. Kurtis Barkley Country: Canada World ranking: 7 Age: 34 Bio: Canadian star who was runner-up in this event in 2019. Born with scoliosis or curvature of the spine, he has been a lifelong golfer in the image of his golf-teacher father. Johan Kammerstad Country: Sweden World ranking: 10 Age: 46 Bio: Swede who has 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. But he remains a force on the All Abilities stage, with four European championships to show for it. Mette Wegge Lynggaard  Country: Denmark World ranking: 43 Age: 38 Bio: The only woman in the field,  Wegge Lynggard has become one of Europe’s best All Abilities players having resumed playing in her 20s after a break of more than 10 years. Born with cerebal palsy effecting her left side, she coaches disabled swimmers voluntarily. Geoff Nicholas  Country: Australia World ranking 14 Age:  61 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. Cameron Pollard  Country: Australia World ranking: 22 Age: 23 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. Stephen Prior  Country: Australia World ranking: 25 Age:  45 Bio: A member at Long Reef in Sydney, Prior lost the bottom of his right arm in a waterskiing accident, going on to become not only a great All Abilities player but one of the sport’s strongest advocates as president of Amputee Golf New South Wales. Mike Rolls  Country: Australia World ranking: 52 Age:  39 Bio: Double amputee whose wit and humour were captured in his book, ‘Ditch The Dead Weight’. Had both legs amputated after contracting Meningococcal Septicemia in 2001; now a great advocate for the sport and a world class player in his own right.

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