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Daniel Slabbert returns to defend his title

By Samantha Viney/Michael Vlismas

Posted on 10 May 2012

LANGEBAAN, Western Cape (6 May 2012) - South Africa's leading disabled golfers will tee it up in the Nedbank SA Disabled Open this week, with one of the young stars hoping he can go on to become the Oscar Pistorius of his sport.

Daniel Slabbert returns as the defending champion in this 54-hole tournament, which tees off at the Langebaan Country Estate on Monday.

He is expected to face another strong challenge from Iglin Grobbelaar, twice a winner of the national Open and who was denied a rare hat-trick by Slabbert's victory here last year.

The two golfers went head-to-head in challenging conditions last year, with Slabbert winning by two strokes for the first major title of his career.

And his career has been on the rise ever since. The single leg amputee has been sponsored to attend the golf school at the High Performance Centre (hpc) in Pretoria. He's also travelled to Sweden to represent South Africa in both the World Handicap Golf Championships and the Swedish Invitational, and was voted the Disabled Golfer of the Year in 2011.

"I've had some lucky breaks," says Slabbert, who lost his leg in a freak trampoline accident. "There's no doubt that life has really changed for me. My golf is now taking me to places I never thought possible. I want to make a success of all the opportunities that I've been given. Of course, this means I'd like to win the Nedbank SA Disabled Open again."

But beyond this week, the two-handicap golfer has a new goal in mind as he hopes to follow Pistorius' lead in taking his talent into mainstream sport.

"I'm hoping to make it onto the Sunshine Tour as a regular professional. I think it would be big for disabled golf if I could achieve that," says Slabbert.

Eugene Vorster, Executive Director of the South African Disabled Golf Association, believes Slabbert's dream is not that far off from becoming reality.

"As disabled people we want to compete, to win and be champions just as much as the Usain Bolts of this world. Having pioneers in South Africa like Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius, we believe it's only a matter of time for golf to follow in their footsteps and for us to produce a disabled golfer to challenge the able bodied."

The Nedbank SA Disabled Open field also includes Reinard Schuhknecht, a single arm amputee who will continue his quest for a maiden Open triumph after finishing joint third last year.

And the in-form Trevor Reich completes what will be an impressive opening fourball when the tournament tees off on Monday.

Article by Michael Vlismas

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