17 Nov 2023 | All Abilities |
World top six locked in for Australian All-Abilities Championship
by Paul Munnings
Defending champion Kipp Popert will head the strongest field of All-Abilities golfers ever assembled in Australia at the ISPS HANDA Australian All-Abilities Championship from November 30-December 2. For the first time, the top six players on the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD), representing six different countries, will be in the field for this year’s event at The Australian in Sydney. A seven-shot winner in last year’s AAAC in Melbourne, Popert currently heads the WR4GD rankings and will head to Sydney along with (in world ranking order) Brendan Lawlor (Ireland), Chris Biggins (US), Juan Postigo (Spain), Kurtis Barkley (Canada) and Tomasso Perino (Italy). They will be joined by the top four Australians on the world rankings, headed by Queensland’s Lachlan Wood, who is currently the Australian No.1 and will be contesting the AAAC for the first time. Filling out the home-based contingent are Cameron Pollard (NSW), Geoff Nicholas (NSW) and Stephen Prior (NSW), as well as one of two invitees, Special Olympics World Games gold medalist Natascha Tennent from Queensland. The other invitation has been awarded to two-time AAAC champion, Sweden’s Johan Kammerstad. As it has done since 2018, the AAAC will be played alongside the men and women contesting the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. This year, the 54-hole championship will finish on Saturday afternoon. Golf Australia’s Programs and Inclusion Senior Manager Christian Hamilton said the 2023 field was the best that had been assembled in AAAC history. “It’s enormous to have the top six in the world join us to vie for the Australian All-Abilities Championship title alongside our best Australian players,” he said. “The game of golf is making great strides forward in the All-Abilities area. “We have more players getting involved both here in Australia, and across the world of golf, and the depth is improving every year. “The quality of All-Abilities golf we will witness at The Australian will be exceptional and we will have another very worthy champion.” Tickets and premium experiences for the ISPS HANDA Australian Open are available via ticketek.com.
The ISPS HANDA Australian Open is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW and naming rights partner ISPS HANDA
Australian All Abilities Championship field 2023
Country: UK World ranking: 1 Age: 25 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.Brendan LawlorCountry: Ireland Age: 25 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 Age: 31 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.
Country: Spain Age: 26 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.
Country: Canada World ranking: 5 Age: 36 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.
Country: Italy World ranking: 6 Age: 39 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.
Country: Sweden World ranking: 15 Age: 48 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.
Country: Australia World ranking: 33 Age: 32 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.
Country: Australia World ranking: 46 Age: 24 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.
Country: Australia World ranking: 58 Age: 62 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.
Country: Australia World ranking: 68 Age: 46 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.
Country: Australia World ranking: 280 Age: 16 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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