The top contender in the 2019 Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open, taking place from May 13 to 16 at the Magalies Park Golf Club, is last year’s champion, Mike Browne. The army veteran and scratch golfer ventured to South Africa from the United Kingdom (UK) to compete in the tournament for the first time last year and trumped golfers from South Africa, the United States (US) and Denmark with a 12-shot victory.
This prestigious tournament, which has been organised by the South African Disabled Golf Association (SADGA) for the past 21 years, attracts some of the world’s best golfers with disabilities. Historically South Africans have dominated the tournament, with Ben van Zyl winning the event from 1998 to 2003; Pieter Jansen taking the prize in 2004; Nico Wentzel in 2008; Iglin Grobler in 2009 and 2010; and Daniel Slabbert from 2011 to 2013, and again in 2015. In 2017, Chad Pfeifer from the US broke the South Africans’ winning streak.
Browne was selected to represent the On-Course Foundation at the 2018 Canon South Africa Open after winning his first professional golf competition at Ashridge Golf Club, where he shot a 66. The On-Course Foundation supports the rehabilitation of veterans through programmes to develop golf skills and offer career opportunities.
This victory was a stark contrast to his reality around 2013, when the army vet was undergoing rehabilitation following an injury suffered during his time as a serviceman. Browne got his first handicap of 28 in the summer of 2014. Within three months he was down to 15 and after a year he was playing off four. He turned pro in 2017.
“We are pleased to welcome back our 2018 champ, Mike Browne, for the 21st edition of the Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open. A very talented player who is undoubtedly a tremendous inspiration to anyone rebuilding their lives following a serious injury, Browne is a tough contender. We wish him all the best as he defends his title in May,” says Dana Eitzen, corporate and marketing communications executive from Canon South Africa, which has a proud legacy of support for South African sport.
The company is a primary sponsor of SADGA’s First Swing programme, which encourages young children with disabilities to live beyond their physical limitations and play golf. Canon is also associated with the Sunshine Ladies Tour as a sponsor of the season opening event for the past two years. This year, Canon SA is sponsoring The Player’s Fund Project Hero, through which the stories of four fallen rugby heroes are being told to offer hope to former rugby players whose lives have been changed forever by serious injuries on the field.