Amputee golf legend Geoff Nicholas will head to Dubai to compete at European level next month fresh from yet another triumph – this time in the Western Australian All Abilities Championship.
The 58-year-old Sydney professional won the first-ever All Abilities championship to be played as part of a state Open by four shots from Shane Luke, himself a national amputee champion, at Cottesloe Golf Club.
Luke started out hot but ultimately ran out of holes in the chase to beat Nicholas (76-79), who has won tournaments all around the world and competed on the Australasian PGA Tour, despite having lost his right leg as a 13-year-old.
“I think the whole 11 (players) did very well,” said Nicholas. “I’ve played tour events before and it can be pretty tough, and when we played on the Saturday we got the worst of the wind. So it was pretty brutal.”
Nicholas said it was gratifying for the All Abilities players to see disabled people in the crowd, knowing that they could be providing inspiration. “You just feel that they might be inspired to get out there, that it’s possible,” he said. “It gives those people some incentive.”
The 11-player field played in front of the WA Open field and Golf Australia’s national inclusion manager Christian Hamilton is optimistic that it will soon become a permanent part of the tournament.
“The players loved it, they were really proud to share the stage at a state Open, and Michael Sim (the Open winner) made a comment in his speech about how great it was to have the All Abilities players integrated with the tournament,” said Hamilton.
Nicholas flew home from Perth to attend to his day job, running his driving range at Banton Park in south-west Sydney. But he will soon be on the road again, invited to play in the European Disabled Golf Association’s season-ender as part of the European Tour's DP World Tour Championship.
Geoff Nicholas (NSW) 76-79 155
Shane Luke (NSW) 83-76 159
Arnold Bamroong (Vic) 80-83 163
Tony Coates (WA) 88-85 173
Nicholas Panos (WA) 92-87 179