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G4D Open: Rules, competitors, and important inquiries concerning this competition for professional handicap golfers


English world No 1 Kipp Popert is aiming to make history as the first ever GD4 Open champion

English world No 1 Kipp Popert is aiming to make history as the first ever GD4 Open champion

Talented golfers with disabilities from across the world will travel to the UK and compete at Woburn for the inaugural G4D Open, running Wednesday May 10 to Friday May 12.

A field of 80 male and female golfers will contest over the 54-hole course, representing 19 countries including England, USA and Australia.

The inaugural championship, held in partnership with The R&A and the DP World Tour and supported by EDGA (formerly the European Disabled Golf Association), will be one of the most inclusive golf tournaments ever staged.

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What's the format?

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Players will compete across the impairment categories of standing, intellectual, visual and sitting. Every category has two classes, bar standing which has three, depending on the level of impact the golfers disability has on their play.

Standing ranges from golfers with significantly impaired balance and multiple limb impairments in category one, down to category three, which includes players with mildly reduced function in a single limb or reduced range of movement or stature.

Juan Postigo Arce of Spain is ranked fourth and will compete in the Standing Three category at the GD4 Open

Juan Postigo Arce of Spain is ranked fourth and will compete in the Standing Three category at the GD4 Open

Intellectual are golfers with an intellectual impairment and or Down's syndrome in category one, and those with Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) in category two.

Visual is split into players who are totally blind and those with a significant visual impairment.

Sitting covers golfers who are unable to play standing without support, category one includes players with impaired ability to control their upper body and severe spinal cord lesions, and category two those with numerous limb amputations and moderate paralysis.

Kipp Popert will face fifth ranked Canadian Kurtis Barkley, on the left, at Wednesday's GD4 Open

Kipp Popert will face fifth ranked Canadian Kurtis Barkley, on the left, at Wednesday's GD4 Open

An overall winner will be determined at the end of three rounds, along with an opposite sex winner and a gross prize in each category.

Who's involved?

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Fourteen of the top 20 players from the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) are involved, including English world No 1 Kipp Popert and Irish world No 2 Brendan Lawlor.

Popert was born with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy which impacts his lower body and spent most of his teenage years undergoing surgery and treatment on his legs and feet.

"It would be a big deal to win the inaugural G4D Open," Popert said. "Only one person is ever going to win the first one and if I put my name on that trophy then that will be incredible. It will be a memory I will treasure forever.

"Those getting into the game need something to aspire to and that is what I'm trying to achieve. I hope people watching the G4D Open come away thinking that anyone can play golf. It doesn't matter what your disability is," he added.

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Speaking in 2020, Brendan Lawlor reflects on his experience as the first disabled golfer to ever play on the European Tour at the ISPS Handa UK Championship.

Speaking in 2020, Brendan Lawlor reflects on his experience as the first disabled golfer to ever play on the European Tour at the ISPS Handa UK Championship.

Brendan Lawlor became the first golfer with a disability to compete on the DP World Tour in 2020, and has continued to represent at top level events including this month's ISPS Handa Championship in Japan.

The Irishman was born with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, a bone disorder means he has a shorter stature and limbs.

Every golfer competing this week has an impressive story, with another notable name being Northern Ireland's Fiona Gray. After 20 years of service in the British Army, including two United Nations tours as a Corporal, Gray was forced to resign due to worsening knee problems.

Ten surgeries later, the St Patrick's Lady Captain is now a familiar face at EDGA events, winning at the Rose Ladies Series in Yorkshire last month.

Fiona Gray is already 80th in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability, after only discovering EDGA events last year

Fiona Gray is already 80th in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability, after only discovering EDGA events last year

Further afield the pool of top 10 golfers with disabilities includes seventh-ranked Australian Lachlan Wood, Canadian world No 5 Kurtis Barkley and world No 4 Juan Postigo of Spain.

Tournament's Ambitions

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DP World Tour

The GD4 Tour launched in February 2022 and now has a schedule of nine tournaments which run alongside DP World Tour events, at the same course on the same week.

This week's championship hones in on inclusivity, making space for every player and aiming to inspire more people with disabilities to pursue golf.

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"The World Health Organisation states that one in six people has a disability and so we want to show that golf is open to everyone regardless of ability," says Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A.

"We can do this by celebrating the exceptional skills of golfers who as role models will inspire more men, women and young people to take up the sport through their achievements on the course," added Slumbers.

The inaugural GD4 Open has big ambitions, and will also bring together national federations from around the world to discuss topics relating to the growth and development of golf for the disabled.

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