A former professional rugby player and a karate teacher were the two main prize winners at the first Wales G4D Open.
Wales Golf had held regular disability events in recent years, but this was the first European Disabled Golf Association badged event in Wales with Caernarfon’s Paul Williams winning the Gross event, three shots clear of Monmouthshire’s Mike Jones.
The Nett event was won by England’s Neil White ahead of Italy’s Jacope Luce in the international field at St Melyd in North Wales.
Williams is a former professional rugby player for Worcester Warriors and Waterloo, who was forced to retire because of knee injuries which put him in the Wales G4D Open twenty years and 17 operations later.
“It was a great experience to play in the first G4D event in Wales, it was quite a shock to win but fantastic to win in North Wales,” said 45-year-old audio engineer Williams.
“Playing at St Melyd has been amazing, the greens in particular were very quick and in great condition.
“I was a professional rugby player before I was forced to retire because of my knee. I had one of the first donor knee operations with pioneering stem cell treatment, but unfortunately that did not work.
“I had cartilage transplants, High Tibial Osteopathy and now I have two full knee replacements, after 17 operations in all.”
Nett category winner White was in a coma for six weeks after a motorcycle accident, spending 6 months in hospital with his left leg being put back together with pins and bolts.
“It is really nice to come out on top, the course was in fantastic condition and the standard of play was really good to see,” said the Aspley Guiise and Woburn Sands player.
“I had a motorcycle accident. I had to be taken to hospital in an air ambulance, I had nerve damage down my left side and had to have my left leg put back together.
“I was unconscious for six weeks, and it was around six months before I left hospital.
“I put a lot of work in the gym trying to walk again. I had played golf since I was little, so it was important to get back to playing for my mental health as well as physical health.
“My friends tried to get me back out playing a few holes, the social side was really important as well.
“Apart from the golf I work as a karate teacher, it was something I did before the accident so it is nice to be back involved and helping people with that.”
Wales Golf Competitions Manager Christian Askins said, “It was great to hold the first Wales G4D Open and St Melyd was an excellent venue.
“The standard of the golf was exceptional and very rewarding to see. Also thanks to everyone at St Melyd and the volunteers for making it such a successful event.
“It was nice to see a Welsh one-two in the Gross event, with Paul and Mike, while congratulations also to Neil. It was also good to see competitors coming from all over Europe.
“This was the first such event held by Wales Golf, so we have plenty to build on in the future.”