Eight leading golfers with disability have qualified to play in the EDGA Dubai Finale next week.
The 36-hole tournament will run alongside the European Tour’s season ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, held at Jumeriah Golf Estates from 18 – 21 November.
The EDGA Dubai Finale, played on Friday 19 November and Saturday 20 November, will feature the following players in order of the latest World Ranking.
Kipp Popert, England (Ranked No. 1), Brendan Lawlor, Ireland (2), Chris Biggins, USA (4), Kurtis Barkley, Canada (7), Tomasso Perrino, Italy (8), Adem Wahbi, Belgium (16), Mike Browne, England (19), and Felix Norrman, Sweden (25).
The European Tour’s drive for inclusivity within golf continues as players will tackle the same course set up as the Tour professionals in the final Rolex Series event of the season.
The R&A also support the work of EDGA through annual funding, with disability an important area of the organisation’s inclusivity agenda. EDGA is also an R&A affiliate.
Players qualified in Dubai from a pool of 16 players with a range of disabilities – from physical (including neurological, orthopaedic, spinal and limb) to intellectual and spread across four events – including the EDGA Cazoo Open at The Celtic Manor Resort, the ISPS HANDA World Disability Invitational at Massereene and Galgorm Castle, the EDGA Hero Open at Fairmont St Andrews and the EDGA Cazoo Classic at London Golf Club.
The tournaments and the EDGA Dubai Finale have helped raise the profile of golf to new audiences of people with disability, who can be encouraged to enjoy the health and social benefits of golf.
Chris Biggins, who has Cerebral Palsy and is a respected PGA of America golf coach, was the winner of the EDGA Cazoo Classic. He said, “These events mean everything to us. Growing up, we all wanted to be professional golfers and we never realistically had the chance to make it on Tour.
“But now we get to have something major to play for on the biggest stage, and it’s pushing all of us to get better and maybe even one day we’ll have one of us playing on the real Tour. We’re so honoured and I can’t wait to play in Dubai.
“Everyone adapts their own way whether they are short stature golfers, or have Cerebral Palsy, or are amputees, we all find a way to get the job done. This is a chance to show that we’re not good golfers with disability, we’re good golfers, period.”
Felix Norrman has a complex neurological condition and plays off a +0.6 handicap. His year began by receiving a golfing scholarship from Henrik Stenson, the 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year, in his home country of Sweden.
Norrman added, “These events have meant a lot to me. I think I have grown as a person because I have learned to control my nerves at these big competitions. I was relieved to qualify for Dubai and I will be very excited and nervous to play at Jumeriah Golf Estates.
“This tournament shows ordinary golfers and professionals that we can also play golf even though we have a neurological or physical disability.”
EDGA President and Head of Disability and Inclusion for the International Golf Federation, Tony Bennett, continued, “We have recently found greater understanding as to how golf can transform the lives of all who sample, participate, or compete in the game. More and more national federations are getting behind this movement for inclusive change which is fantastic for golfers with disability and the whole golf world, too. Everyone will benefit.
“EDGA commends DP World and the European Tour for their shared vision to bring the EDGA Finale under the concluding event of the Race to Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship. This Rolex Series event will create a magnificent showcase so that many more people will recognise the abilities of some of the best golfers with disability in the world.”
EDGA is an international not-for-profit association that seeks to change the lives of people with disability through the power of golf. The objective is to help 500,000 people with disability to try the game.