Lawlor be­comes first dis­abled player on the Euro­pean Tour

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By James Cor­ri­gan

To Bren­dan Lawlor, the score was im­ma­te­rial, al­though when he birdied the fifth to move to one-un­der the pulse in­evitably quick­ened up con­sid­er­ably.

It was sim­ply the ex­pe­ri­ence that meant every­thing as the 22-yearold from Dun­dalk be­came the first dis­abled pro­fes­sional to com­pete on the Euro­pean Tour.

Af­ter play­ing so well at the start of his first round in the ISPS Handa UK Cham­pi­onship at the Bel­fry, Lawlor tailed off to shoot a 12-over 84. Of course the com­peti­tor within the golfer ranked fourth by the Euro­pean Dis­abled Golf As­so­ci­a­tion was dis­ap­pointed but it was what the day sig­ni­fied that res­onated most.

“I’m just so grate­ful to be com­pet­ing on the same stage as these guys and get­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties like this,” Lawlor said. “The back nine was a bit tough. I didn’t shoot the best score but it’s not about the score. It’s a week to change my life and other peo­ple’s lives, so just go out and en­joy it. That’s what I did.

“The nerves were fine, just the usual first-tee nerves. I hit a good one down the mid­dle on the first and sort of re­laxed then. I re­ally en­joyed my­self to­day. It felt amaz­ing, the com­pany of Richard [McEvoy] and Jeff [Winther] was fan­tas­tic.”

Lawlor has a rare con­di­tion called El­lis-van Crev­eld syn­drome, char­ac­terised by a shorter stature and shorter limbs, but it did not stop him be­com­ing a scratch player and be­ing highly re­garded in the Ir­ish am­a­teur ranks be­fore reach­ing world No2 in the dis­abled rank­ings. He does not see him­self as any dif­fer­ent, but he con­cedes that his was not a nor­mal up­bring­ing.

“I’ve al­ways em­braced my dis­abil­ity, be­cause ev­ery­one has things wrong with them, but I think it’s about how you ac­cept it,” he said. “My fam­ily never stopped me do­ing any­thing and I think that’s why I’m here to­day. I will put every­thing I’ve got into the sec­ond round.”

The down­pours caused a pre­ma­ture end to the first day at the fa­mous Ry­der Cup course. South African Justin Wal­ters is the leader in the club­house on eight-un­der fol­low­ing a 64, with three shots back to a group in sec­ond, in­clud­ing world No 30 Bernd Wies­berger.

Happy day: Bren­dan Lawlor, who suf­fers from El­lis-van Crev­eld syn­drome, birdied the fifth at the Bel­fry but fin­ished with an 84

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