Mdudu out to im­press his idol

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Teenaged leg am­putee Simu Mdudu is hop­ing to ful­fil a long-cher­ished dream when he lines up along­side his idol, Manuel de los San­tos, in the 18th Ned­bank SA Dis­abled Open at the Zwartkop Coun­try Club in Pre­to­ria, start­ing to­mor­row.

De los San­tos, a leg am­putee from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic in the Caribbean, is an in­spi­ra­tional golfer who plays at tour­na­ments world­wide with­out a pros­thetic limb. The three­hand­i­cap­per has fea­tured in many top events in­ter­na­tion­ally. He has touched many lives with his tal­ent on the course.

Now Mdudu (18), who comes from Philippi town­ship in Cape Town, says he is look­ing for­ward to us­ing his golf skills in the event to fur­ther his life through golf, just as De los San­tos has done by mak­ing a name for him­self in­ter­na­tion­ally.

He plays all over Europe, where he has ex­celled against able-bod­ied com­peti­tors.

Mdudu is de­ter­mined to steal some thun­der on the greens, just like the man he looks up to. A Grade 11 pupil from Ned Do­man High School in Athlone, Mdudu is con­fi­dent he will be able to im­press De los San­tos and the golf­ing fra­ter­nity at large.

“I’ve watched hun­dreds of video clips of Manuel on the in­ter­net,” said Mdudu. “It has been my big­gest dream to see him play for real since the first time I watched him on the com­puter. I still can’t be­lieve it’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to hap­pen. I’m scared that I’m go­ing to wake up and re­alise it was a dream.”

What sets Mdudu apart from most leg am­putees is the fact that he stands on one leg when he hits a shot and uses crutches to walk be­tween shots. Un­like many golfers with his dis­abil­ity, Mdudu does not use an ar­ti­fi­cial leg when he plays. He lost his right leg when he fell off a train on his way to school in 2013.

Mdudu will be mak­ing his de­but in the open.

Some of the lo­cal op­po­si­tion against whom Mdudu will com­pete will be four-time cham­pion Daniel Slab­bert and two-time World OneArm Match Play ti­tle holder Reinard Schuhknecht.

Slab­bert is chas­ing a fifth ti­tle af­ter win­ning last year’s con­test, when he beat Schuhknecht by two shots.

Other in­ter­na­tional play­ers who will show their met­tle in­clude for­mer SA Open cham­pion Cana­dian Josh Wil­liams, erst­while US cor­po­ral Chad Pfeifer and Dutch Dis­abled Open ti­tlist Spa­niard Juan Postigo. The lat­ter also plays on one leg.

The fi­nal round will be played on Wed­nes­day.

PHO­TOS: SI­MON BER­TRAND PHOTO: SADGA

ACHIEVER Philippa John­son-Dwyer is re­lieved to have spon­sor­ship to try to com­pete in dres­sage at the Par­a­lympics ON TOP Tam­sin Mbat­sha-Bouwer also hopes to be in Rio for the Par­a­lympics this year DRES­SAGE DAME Shani de Beer is to rep­re­sent SA in this genre of the eques­trian sport that has been go­ing since 1996 FIRM STANCE Simu Mdudu prac­tises a bunker shot at King Davids Mow­bray Golf Courser, his home course in Cape Town. He is de­ter­mined to im­press at the SA Open

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