The G4D Open

Popert and van Houten make history with G4D Open victories

The R&A
17 May 24
3 mins

World number one Kipp Popert held his nerve to claim a one-shot victory over Brendan Lawlor at The G4D Open at Woburn.

The top two players on the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) had a final day showdown in the sun over the Duchess Course with Popert’s closing two-over-par 74 securing a winning total of one-over 217.

Englishman Popert, who has cerebral palsy, was edged out by Lawlor in last year’s inaugural Championship but this time the 25-year-old prevailed to secure a tenth G4D Tour title.

Handled pressure

“It’s great to win,” said Popert. “I was playing well coming into this week but I didn't really have my A-game the first day. It was nice to come out on top at the end of the week in the battle with Brendan. “I thought I did a good job on the front nine today and on the back I just tried to hit greens. I wanted to just keep it in play, what my coach has told me to do, hitting to 15 feet and such like. It goes against my instinct to be honest because I want to go as low as I can. “I think what I was most pleased with was on the last hole. Again, I thought ‘I'm going to push this to 15 feet’. I felt like the pressure was there but I handled it.” Ireland’s Lawlor, who has a rare condition called Ellis–van Creveld syndrome, put up a stout defence but was made to rue mistakes as he finished with a four-over 76 for 218. Canadian Chris Willis was third on six-over 222 with the Australian pair of Wayne Perske and Lachlan Wood a stroke further back.

Tight battle

Lawlor, 27, held a slender one-shot lead overnight and doubled his advantage in the glorious conditions with a birdie at the opening hole. He found trouble on both par-3s on the front nine, taking a double bogey on the 2nd and the 7th, allowing Popert to lead by one after his birdie on the 8th. But Popert had difficulties of his own on the demanding par-4 9th for a double bogey, with Lawlor also dropping a shot to leave them both at one-over heading into the back nine. Popert’s birdie at the 10th and Lawlor’s back-to-back bogeys saw the world’s best player go three clear. A bogey from the leader at the next and brilliant birdies from Lawlor at the 15th and 16th suddenly brought the duo back level, before the world number two caught his approach shot heavy at the 17th which led to an untimely bogey. Popert coolly holed from two feet for a winning par at the last.  Popert added, “There was quite a lot of people and I was just trying to focus. I won the US Adaptive Open last year with the USGA so I've now got both at the same time. I’m pretty excited to get home and put them next to each other.”

Frustration for Lawlor

Lawlor said, “It’s a tough one, tough to take. I went two ahead early on but I just kept hitting ropey shots, just not usually what I do. When I went three behind on the 14th, I said, ‘right, it's time to fight now’.  “I wanted to defend, wanted to try and win it. But unfortunately I duffed my 9 iron on 17 and made bogey. I got some mud in my eye from the second shot and it affected the putt I would say. But Kipp did the business today. I had two doubles on par-3s and that's inexcusable. “It was amazing with the crowds all day long, it definitely gives an added pressure to what you're trying to do. But I think it's important for people to see what we do.” Established last year, the Championship – held in partnership between The R&A and the DP World Tour and supported by EDGA (formally the European Disabled Golf Association) – is one of the most inclusive ever staged. The G4D Open featured nine sport classes across multiple impairment groups, with 80 men and women players of both amateur and professional status, aged 15-68, representing 19 countries.

Kipp Popert - England

“It’s great to win. I was playing well coming into this week but I didn't really have my A-game the first day. It was nice to come out on top at the end of the week in the battle with Brendan."

Success for van Houten

With Popert the Men’s Champion, Dutch player Daphne van Houten – the leading woman at 25th on the WR4GD – was crowned the Women’s Champion. Van Houten, 25, who suffers from scoliosis, finished 17 shots clear of England’s Aimi Bullock.  “It's been a long week and coming here I’m happy I got the win in the end,” said van Houten. I knew I needed to keep my cool and I did. My short game didn't start well this week because the grass is just a little bit different than what I'm used to but I got the hang of it today.  “I try to encourage other women to play golf, golfers with a disability or not. It's growing and growing and there is a little bit more competition so that's really nice. It keeps me sharp. You can see people watching now and they are impressed with what we are doing. Hopefully more people come to watch and start to pick up a golf club.” Both men’s and women’s winners were presented with new trophies to reflect the multiple threads woven among the players on their journeys to compete in The G4D Open.

Sport class winners

A gross prize was also awarded in each sport class, covering various categories in Standing, Intellectual, Visual and Sitting. The men’s gross prize winners were as follows: 
  • Intellectual 1: Cameron Pollard, Australia
  • Intellectual 2: Thomas Blizzard, England
  • Standing 1: Juan Postigo Arce, Spain
  • Standing 2: Kipp Popert, England
  • Standing 3: Brendan Lawlor, Ireland
  • Sitting 1: Terry Kirby, England
  • Sitting 2: Richard Kluwen, The Netherlands
  • Visual 1: Paul O’Rahilly, Ireland
  • Visual 2: John Eakin, England
The women’s gross prize winners were as follows:
  • Intellectual 2: Erika Malmberg, Sweden
  • Standing 1: Alessandra Donati, Italy
  • Standing 2: Aimi Bullock, England
  • Standing 3: Daphne van Houten, The Netherlands
Highlights from the Championship will be aired on Sky Sports Golf from Monday 27 May at 5pm and throughout that week. The establishment of The G4D Open follows on from the inclusion of the Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disability in the Rules of Golf and The R&A and USGA’s ongoing administration of the WR4GD. Woburn continued its rich history of hosting amateur and professional championships with Final Qualifying for The Open from 2014 to 2017 and most recently the AIG Women's Open in 2019, both played on the Marquess Course.