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Proud Perske claims victory at Scottish Open for Golfers with a Disability

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Australia’s Wayne Perske admitted winning the inaugural Scottish Open for Golfers with a Disability was the most satisfying victory of his career just four years after being told by doctors he’d never play again.

The 49-year-old entered the 36-hole stroke play event at Cardrona Golf Hotel and Spa as the hot favourite based on his pedigree in the professional ranks with two wins in Australia and Japan.

However, this was a win he couldn’t have predicted in 2020 when a third major op to repair spinal damage offered a gloomy outcome.

Yet the man from Brisbane never gave up hope, rebuilt his confidence, adapted his swing and this year – after a further operation – decided to play in disability events.

He produced rounds of 68 and 75 to give him an aggregate score of 143 (-3) for a three-shot win over Royal Musselburgh’s Gordon McLay who was proud to push the Aussie all the way and finish top Scot.

Garth Allen was the next best Australian, in fourth place. five behind Perske after rounds of 76-72

Perske, who also qualified for the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool before his injuries, hailed his triumph as the first chapter in a new golfing story.

“It’s amazing and I’m so proud to win in Scotland,” said Perske supported all week by wife Vanessa.

“I had given up for six years. I battled with surgeries and multiple setbacks. My surgeon told me I’d never play golf again.

“At one stage I had no feeling in my leg, a dropped foot and my balance was gone.

“One further surgery gave me a 20% chance of getting through and fortunately for me I’ve always been one to work hard and here we are.

“To get to a level where I can win is special – probably more special than winning before.”

In a final field featuring 40 starters from the four home nations as well as Australia, Perske took a commanding lead on day one with a 5-under-par round of 68 and never looked like giving it up.

An opening front nine on that first day featuring eight pars and a birdie represented solid progress.

In tricky and gusty conditions the back nine could best be described as inspired and, for one hole at least, frustrating.

Seven birdies and a regulation par had a little of the shine taken off them by a triple-bogey at the par-5 14th hole.

In round two his progress was steady. He negotiated the front nine in 2-under par with birdies at the second and sixth holes.

A double at the 10th halted his charge and there was a further scare at 14 when he had to hit three balls off the tee and was relieved to find his first in play.

Even a double-bogey on the last couldn’t sour the moment of victory.

He added: “It was a real struggle today and I had to keep thinking how privileged I was to play in this event.

“That helped get me through. I played well on day one and like most golfers in this situation you have good and bad days.

“Before I had everything in front of me and I was trying to make a living. Now – when I felt as if I’d never play golf again – to be on the course and being surrounded by awesome people is a bonus.

“Now I play for the love of it. It’s given me a purpose. I’ve started a new job coaching in the disability sector and I’m surrounding myself with new opportunities.”

Scottish Golf’s maiden event for golfers with a disability featured male and female golfers with visual, neurological and physical impairments.

Scottish Golf’s Toni Ffinch, senior events officer and this week’s tournament director said: “We congratulate Wayne on his victory – he was a deserved winner and demonstrated great skill to post the scores he did on a testing course.”

Article and image courtesy of Scottish Golf

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