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Brendan Lawlor: Irishman Relishing Opportunity To Raise Disability Golf’s Profile

March 2, 2021

“I feel very lucky and privileged it’s me. We’re creating these chances for people with different types of disability.”

Brendan Lawlor says he will never stop “fighting”.

He has been doing it from the moment he was born with a hole in his heart as well as the rare limb-limiting condition Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome which means the 23-year-old stands at 4ft 11in.

The Dundalk man became the first disabled golfer to compete on the European Tour when he teed up in the UK Championship at the Belfry last August.

Rounds of 84 and 82 left Lawlor feeling he had not done himself justice on the playing front but the experience still represented a week that “changed my life”.

“I had to get the hole in my heart repaired at six weeks old,” Lawlor told BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound.

“It was meant to happen at three months old but I wouldn’t have survived any longer if they hadn’t operated that day.

“The doctors said I would take six months to recover but I was out of hospital in 10 days so that was an indication of my fighter’s attitude.”

Lawlor’s love of golf fostered by grandfather

His zeal for golf was fostered by his beloved grandfather, who resolved to teach the young Lawlor the game despite his disability.

“He sort of had the fantasy of one of his grandchildren picking up golf clubs and continuing it on,” said Lawlor.

“I was in the garden for many, many days with him practising and honing my short game and that’s definitely where the passion came from.”

By his mid-teens, Lawlor was one of the best juvenile players at Dundalk Golf Club and he went on to represent it in the Emerald Isle’s premier club competition, the Irish Senior Cup.

Opponents taking on Lawlor in those days were often in for a rude awakening.

“You’d go to events and people would be saying that it was going to be an easy match because I looked different.

“Then they would get a big shock when I would beat them on the 14th or 15th [hole]. It sort of took off from there. I was always a confident guy and had belief in my own ability.”

‘They treat me like Tyrrell Hatton’

It was only four years ago that Lawlor realised there were potential avenues in disability golf which have since gone on to transform his life.

On the day he spoke to BBC Radio Ulster, Lawlor had been been one of the main speakers at a news conference to announce details of this year’s World Invitational mixed men’s and women’s event, which will take place in Northern Ireland in July.

Other speakers included European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and pop star and golf fanatic Niall Horan, who signed up Lawlor in 2019 to his Modest Golf management agency. Its clients include world number five Tyrrell Hatton and Irish LPGA player Leona Maguire.

“I’ve been a part of the stable two years now after signing for them as a professional. They’ve never treated me any differently. They’ve treated me like Tyrrell Hatton and Leona Maguire….just like a normal person,” said Lawlor.

“I’ve really enjoyed the journey. It’s like a wee family we have.”

Signed deal with clubs manufacturer

Lawlor’s link with Modest has also recently seen him sign a deal with one of the leading manufacturers. Adjustments have been made to his club specifications which he believes will improve his game further.

“I have just got a whole new knowledge of where I can go with my clubs. I still use standard-length clubs because I don’t want to give away any distance, but I have them three degrees bent so my clubface is square to the target,” he said.

“Signing with those guys this year was a massive bonus and improved my game massively. I was never really into that side of it before.”

As it stands, Lawlor is fourth in the world disabled golf rankings and his big dream is to help in the drive to set up a professional circuit for disabled players.

“I want to get more people into the game and there’s also talk of a European Tour Disabled Golf Association to run alongside the European Tour, which would enable disabled golfers to earn a living from the game,” added Lawlor, who hopes the sport will be in the Paralympics by the time the 2028 Games take place in Los Angeles.

“I’m trying to create a path for everyone to get those chances.

“It has to start with someone. I feel very lucky and privileged it’s me. We’re creating these chances for people with different types of disability.”

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