Home » Lawlor Continues to Raise the Bar for All Things Disability Golf
Featured Golf News Golfer News

Lawlor Continues to Raise the Bar for All Things Disability Golf

Brendan Lawlor did it to raise awareness for the other golfers with a disability suffering online abuse but closer to home it had started to affect his family too.

The 26-year-old has a bone growth disorder that leads to shorter limbs, known as Ellis Van Creveld Syndrome, and has had to endure negative comments about it throughout his life.

But getting the opportunity to play in the ISPS Handa Championship in Japan should have been another milestone to celebrate in his young career only for some online trolls to circle.

And when his brother, Liam, spoke up it was time to take a stance with the G4D Open just around the corner.

“To be honest, it was my brother’s idea; this stuff doesn’t annoy me but it’s hard for my family to read that,” said Lawlor.

“He came with the idea that I would highlight it. I brought that to my manager and they made a picture to highlight the negativity.

“Timing wise we didn’t think of the G4D Open, it was just after Japan it was a really successful week, not on the golf course but for other things, getting a start on the DP World Tour was huge and it was still fresh.

“So my manager thought it was a really good time to post it, it could’ve worked out as a negative for me going to the G4D Open as there would’ve been more pressure on me after coming out with this.

“People might have been thinking how was it going to affect his game but I didn’t really think of it like that. It was something that was highlighted on the day and then I forgot about it.”

Similar to Rory McIlroy on the PGA Tour, Lawlor has taken it upon himself to become a voice for golfers with a disability.

The Louth man is second in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability, only behind his long-time rival Kipp Popert. But crucially those placings were reversed in Woburn when Lawlor outlasted Popert down the home stretch.

It was a brave victory, full of heart and determination, especially after the eyes of the golfing world turned to Lawlor and G4D when he released some of the vitriol that had come his way. Those comments were made after a DP World Tour video went viral in the wake of his Japanese showing.

“It wasn’t a sympathy trick, it’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life,” said Lawlor.

“It’s something that doesn’t affect me but I was thinking disability athletes are going to be in the limelight a lot more and it was a great time to highlight it. I have a good enough platform, I have been at the forefront of the game for a long time so it was a great avenue to help other people deal with that kind of stuff.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to do it and it got great attraction all around the golfing world and hopefully it will get more people into the game rather than putting them out of the game because of the negativity.

“I got some lovely messages off some of the biggest stars in the world such as Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy. All these guys got in contact with me, just to let me know that they are on my side, and they support me 100 percent of the way.

“I got a lovely message from Thomas Bjorn saying he is honoured to walk the fairways with me, as I am with him. To get that message from a Ryder Cup captain and a legend of the game was pretty incredible.”

But the pressure was incredible heading to Woburn too and Lawlor was able to take that on his shoulders and compete, nonetheless.

“It showed a lot of mental strength as that’s something I probably didn’t have last year as I was getting into contention. I was just sort of falling at the line,” said Lawlor.

“But it definitely gives me an extra bit of hunger to go out and do it, not to be embarrassed because I don’t really care about that kind of stuff but for myself it’s been a while since I won.

“It was a three-day event and I put myself in a good position, I didn’t think of the social media stuff when I was out there, I was taking myself back to when I won in Dubai and giving myself feelings of how to win again.

“Kipp is a fantastic player, he’s been dominating the disability golf world for the last year. I have beat him before but he pipped me four times last year so it was a monkey to get off my back because I knew I could beat him.

“It was just putting yourself in a position to do so. He grinds very hard so held a lot of shots in the last round and was getting up and down from everywhere and I was hitting fairway and greens and not holing putts.

“So my ride was a lot more stress-free than his, but he was getting it done. It came down to the last hole.”

The Carton House man had put himself into contention with rounds of 70 and 74, and as Popert faltered on his back nine, Lawlor kept his cool and parred the last to become the inaugural G4D Open Champion.

“There’s only one chance to be the first to do something, and it was very special,” said Lawlor.

“It was run by the R&A and the DP World Tour, just for these organisations to recognise disability golf is incredible in itself, so to win it was the icing on the cake.

“It’s been a rollercoaster for the last few weeks. The win didn’t sink in for probably a week because there was so much media requirements, I was doing three or four interviews a day, it didn’t sink in until I got home and sat down and actually let it.”

And with the Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability coming up at Roganstown at the end of the month, Lawlor is excited about the future of the sport here and the work going on behind the scenes.

“There were only two disability golfers when I started, and now, Golf Ireland did a camp a few weeks ago and there were 30 disability golfers there. I think 20 of them were below 10 handicappers,” said Lawlor.

“Golf Ireland really grabbed it by the horns and have promoted it to the full extent, they have been unbelievable. They have been funding guys to go to events, they have just been treating them like the normal amateurs and that’s because of Neil Manchip and all of Golf Ireland.

“We are very appreciative of all the hard work they are doing.”

Source: Irish Golfer