Australian amputee competes in his first major championship at Senior Open

July 26, 2019

The Senior Open Championship, at Royal Lytham, played host to a first in the golf world this week: an amputee competitor.

Australia’s Geoff Nicholas, 58, who qualified for the Senior Open earlier this week, lost his right leg at 11 via a deformity that was caused by a drug called Thalidomide, but he never let it stop his golf game.

Nicholas, who won the first 12 U.S. and British Amputee Opens, qualified through a five-for-two playoff by making a birdie on the first and last hole of the five-hole playoff. Next stop: Royal Lytham.

He struggled in his major debut, shooting 88-86 to miss the cut, but simply getting into the field was an incredible accomplishment.

“When I was down, I found golf, and it has been so good to me,” Nicholas told The Telegraph. “It helps me and makes me forget my disability. There aren’t many games in which you can compete against able-bodied players. In fact it is probably the only sport in the world that you can do that on an equal playing field.”

Well said. Nicholas admitted that he dealt with bullies growing up, but he always stood up to them. It made him tough, he says. He touted one of his prouder moments on the golf course during a pre-tournament press conference this week.

“Back in the ’96 Australian Open I was in the same tournament as Tiger Woods, so that was special, and actually beat him the first round,” Nicholas recalled. “He didn’t have a good one and I had a reasonable one, so I’ve always got that on me.”

Better than most!