The Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open brought a world-class international field to the Zwartkop Country Club for South Africa’s premier disabled golf tournament. The event was played over 54 holes in various disability divisions including Leg Amputee, Arm Amputee, Les Autres, Visually Impaired, Wheelchair and Hearing Impaired.

Leg amputee Daniel Slabbert showed off with a brilliant birdie at the final hole to lift the Nedbank South African Disabled Open title for the fourth time. Slabbert, who hails from Katu in the Northern Cape, beat fellow South African Reinardt Schuhknecht, by three strokes. Slabbert finished on a tournament total of 12 over par. He was overjoyed to return to the winner’s circle for the fourth time in five years.

“It’s great to win again after Josh pipped me to the post last year,” said Slabbert, who plays off a plus-one handicap at The Els Club-Copperleaf.

“It wasn’t hard to sleep on the lead, but I can assure you I wasn’t thinking win number four early this morning when I dropped a shot on the first hole and made an ugly six at the par-five - especially not with Reinardt right on my shoulder. I made a few unnecessary drops early on, which meant the pressure was on all day. Reinardt stayed hot on my heels, but unfortunately he missed those three birdie chances at 16, 17 and 18 and that ultimately was the difference between the two of us.”

World One-Arm Match Play champion Schuhknecht leaves for Ireland on June 12 to take part in the world events and after that he will line up in the American one-armed nationals. “My ultimate goal is to try and improve my golf and qualify for the Sunshine Tour,” Schuhknecht said. “Q-School is on the horison at the beginning of next year or the year after that.”

Defending champion Josh Williams from Canada closed with an 80 and shared third on 231 with two-time champion Iglin Grobbelaar, who posted a 74 in the final round.

The tournament also gives junior golfers the opportunity to compete against their senior counterparts. The17-year-old scholar, Charl Theron, who suffers from a congenital joint disease, is the junior champion and impressed with a fifth place finish overall. Irishman James Hourigan, who lost both legs beneath the knee in a major car accident five years ago, shared fifth on 233.

Paul Roos Gymnasium matriculant, Theron impressed in the last two rounds.

“I struggled a bit on day one with an 81 but then shot 77 and 76, and I played the last nine holes in level par.”

Undeterred by his illness, the well-spoken youngster says he sees stumbling blocks becoming stepping-stones. “This was my fourth SA Disabled Open and I learnt a lot, especially from Josh. He gave me some putting tips after my disastrous first round. I kept berating myself for that opening 81 until my dad, Marius, who caddies for me, told me on the sixth hole just to shut up and get on with it. And he was right. I changed my mind set, and played really well.”

According to Eugene Vorster, executive director of the South African Disabled Golf Association, a total of 67 competitors took part in this year’s Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open that was held 4 - 7 May. This is testimony to the growth and development of disabled golf in South Africa and around the world.

 This is a tournament driven by passion, despite being disabled, it doesn’t make you less competitive