Golfers who In­spire Us

Am­putee Amer­i­can world cham­pion wins SA Dis­abled Open crown.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life Passings - By Stu­art McLean

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.

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