Golfers who Inspire Us
Amputee American world champion wins SA Disabled Open crown.
Happy, smiling faces were everywhere at King David Mowbray Golf Club when 83 golfers from 13 nations competed in the Canon SA Disabled Open at the Cape Town course in May. For the many amputees and other disabled participants, golf has brought an element of fun and fulfilment to their lives, and they openly showed their enjoyment of the occasion which had brought them together.
The champions among them did more than just lighten the mood. They also entertained and inspired the galleries, mostly club members, with their remarkable skills. Spaniard Juan Postigo, 21, was the player who captured everyone’s curiosity and hearts. Born without a right leg, he eschews the use of a prosthetic – “it doesn’t feel natural; I learned balance from a young age” – and swings beautifully like a tour pro around his solitary left leg through every shot (see
page 74). Afterwards, he bent to pick up two crutches, and walked with them.The late Seve Ballesteros is his hero, and Seve would have been proud of this young man.
Longer off the tee than anyone else, and straighter than Seve used to be, Postigo had the lowest round of the 54-hole tournament, a threeunder-par 69 on day one, and went on to finish second to the eventual winner, American Chad Pfeifer, who was defending the title he first won at Zwartkop last year. “I’m back here because the SA Open is the best organ- ised and run national championship in the world,” he said.
Pfeifer, 34, the current world champion, shot 7070-72 to win by six. He’s a good enough golfer to have been given a start in a Web. com Tour event in 2015. He lost his left leg to a landmine while serving in Iraq. “I went through the same torture all amputees endure while in rehab,” he said. “There were times when I felt I didn't have anything to live for. Then a fellow soldier told me to go to the driving range with him and hit balls.
Halfway through the first bucket I hit the sweet spot and it just kept going. I was hooked.”
All the amputees used golf carts to get around the course. American Kenny Bontz, 47, a scratch golfer who finished third, lost his left leg above the knee to cancer. “Playing golf with a prosthetic leg, especially those of us who have lost our entire leg, is extremely draining,” he said. “At the end of the day you’re sore and tired.We could never walk 18 holes.”
Bontz was one of the tournament’s characters, a flamboyant figure at King David Mowbray with his signature Mohawk hairdo and flowery tattoos. “I love golf, and compete as often as I can in able-bodied events. There are always a few guys who look at me and roll their eyes. They’re thinking ‘what is this guy doing here?’ And I’m like, what do you want to play for dude? Because I’m going to kick your butt.
“Chad is an inspiration to so many people. He has touched the lives of a ton of people as he's played around the world.”
There has been a suggestion that Pfeifer, as the champion, be given a sponsor’s invite to compete in next year’s SA Open. Based on his play at King David Mowbray, he certainly would give a good account of himself if it happened.
The leading South African overall, in fifth place, was Uitenhage’s Christo de Jager, from the Les Autres category. Playing off a 9-handicap, he had rounds of 77-77-78. Herman van Wyk and former champion Iglin Grobbelaar were the other South Africans in the top 10.The World Cup of Disabled Golf concluded the week, and Pfeifer and Bontz were back on the podium for the United States with a 42-stroke victory over Canadians Bob MacDermott and Josh Williams, the 2014 SA Disabled Open champion. It was played over five rounds (3 individual, plus foursomes and betterball), and the Americans posted a total of 581 for the week.
The top golfers on the leaderboard displayed four artificial limbs between them as they waited to tee off.
There was a festival atmosphere at King David Mowbray, with national flags and golf carts ringing the practice green.
South Africans Reinhardt Schuhknecht and Morne Cronje study a putt in the World Cup.
Kenny Bontz relaxes after golf.
With Cape Town’s mountains as a backdrop, Juan Postigo tees off on the par-3 fourth hole at King David Mowbray.
Spain’s Juan Postigo drew the admiration of the galleries with his remarkable balance and swing. World Cup champions Chad Pfeifer and Kenny Bontz, from the United States.