By Scott Bennett, EDGA
When the world’s leading golfers fly in to take part in the DP World Tour Championship in November, they might get to say hello to a friendly but unassuming young office supplies salesman from Ireland called Brendan Lawlor. If they see him in the players’ lounge at Jumeirah Golf Estates they may wonder at first who he is and if he is a tournament competitor or perhaps a fan who has struck lucky. However, one glance at Brendan’s swing and how he strikes the ball and they’ll all know for sure… this is a man who can really play the game.
In the World Ranking for golfers of determination (run by The R&A and USGA) Brendan is ranked number three (at the time of writing) and plays off scratch, never allowing Ellis-Van Creveld syndrome, a disability characterised by a shorter stature and shorter limbs, to get in the way of smashing drives and holing regular birdie putts, all completed with a modest smile on his face and a small shrug of the shoulders.
Brendan is a favourite to qualify as one of eight players with disability for the 36 hole EDGA Dubai Finale (November 22-23), due to feature as part of the season ending DP World Tour Championship with the eight EDGA golfers playing on the same course and from the same tees as the Tour players.
The EDGA Dubai Finale will be the second time a European Tour Rolex Series event has offered the stage to leading golfers with disability, following a similar idea at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in July, where 10 golfers with disability shared the same course to compete for the first EDGA Scottish Open.
That tournament was won in handsome style by Lawlor, part of an amazing season for the former ‘All-Ireland pitch and putt champion’ who seems to be improving every week, no matter who he is up against. His final round 71 in the EDGA Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club became a big talking point in European Tour circles.
On his victory, Brendan said: “To be out here this week competing with all the professionals and having the chance to play off the same tees, it’s a privilege for all of us. To play in such a fantastic event, it’s an amazing achievement for EDGA to get us in and for the European Tour to accept that disability golfers are talented is fantastic as well. Inclusion is everything in the world and it’s fantastic to be accepted.”
EDGA is the body that is improving the lives of people of determination through the power of golf, a cause that has been championed by the European Tour in 2019 in no uncertain terms.
EDGA aspires to welcome 500,000 new players into the game who have a disability or suffered from illness or injury, and so the success on the course of Brendan and his playing colleagues, added to the European Tour’s support (The Tour has created playing opportunities at four European Tour/Challenge Tour tournaments this summer), is creating a hugely valuable ‘shop window’ to raise awareness for the cause.
Brendan helped create the headlines by hitting his best form at the perfect time this year. After starring in a couple of EDGA tournaments earlier in the season he was one of three golfers, along with Caroline Mohr of Sweden and Juan Postigo Arce of Spain, to play in the Pro-Am of the Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club, England, in May, playing alongside Paul Waring. The three players acquitted themselves admirably on the challenging links and then wowed a media room full of journalists as they told the stories of how they loved life and loved golf.
Brendan meanwhile built on this confident start when he was invited by the European Tour to take part in the G-Golf Knockout against Adem Wahbi – at the Belgian Knockout in May – and that earned him a place in the field for the KPMG Trophy on the European Challenge Tour in August.
Great to be back out after a couple of weeks at home.
— Brendan Lawlor (@BrendanLawlor97) September 6, 2019
His EDGA Scottish Open win also secured him a place in the recent ISPS Handa World Invitational, presented by Modest! Golf Management, where he put together rounds of 78 and 74 in his first European Challenge Tour event. For the EDGA Dubai Finale, interested readers can follow all the scoring on the European Tour’s website and App, while television coverage of the event will form part of the world feed broadcast.
Brendan will no doubt be in the mix so if you do get the chance to watch some of the play, or are looking at the leaderboards, just remember the name.