Brendan Lawlor will break new ground this week when he becomes the first golfer with a disability to play on the European Tour.
The Ardee man is teeing it up at the Belfry on Thursday for the first round of the ISPS HANDA UK Championship.
Lawlor, 22, was born with a rare condition called Ellis-van Creveld syndrome – a bone growth disorder that leads to shorter limbs.
And he is relishing the chance to shine a light on disability golf at one of the most iconic courses in the world.
He told the Irish Mirror: “I’m going into this week privileged to be there and enjoying what I do.
“You can let these moments overtake you but you need to go out and enjoy it, that’s the approach I’m going to take.
“Not too many people get the opportunity to play on the European Tour, so I’m going to go out with a nice, positive attitude.
“I’ve a lot of confidence in my game at the minute, so I’m just going to go out and have fun and hopefully the scores will come.
“The main goal is to hopefully inspire a lot of the disability golfers watching or encourage others to take up the game.
Brendan Lawlor is set for his European Tour debut
“That’s the most important thing for me and that’s why I am there.”
Lawlor has entered what in these Covid-19 times is called ‘the bubble’ at the Warwickshire venue.
He joked: “I’m looking forward to it, you could be stuck in worse places for the week”.
But you would be mistaken to think that Lawlor is only playing in an ambassadorial capacity this week.
In the space of a year, he has won on the EDGA (European Disabled Golf Association) Tour, turned professional and played in a Challenge Tour event. Rounds of 78 and 74 were not quite good enough to make the cut in the Challenge Tour’s ISPS Handa World Invitational.
But they gave Lawlor, fourth in the disability golf world rankings, the confidence that he can hold his own against the best able bodied golfers too.
He said: “I have a few targets in mind for this week. Obviously making the cut is going to be a big stretch in my first European Tour event.
“But I’m playing well and you never know I could put two rounds of my life together that could get me into the weekend.
“That’s a goal of mine to make a cut on a European Tour event. It would obviously be very tough but it would be a huge moment for me.
“The Challenge Tour event did give me confidence. It was just a great event and so inclusive with equal prize money for men and women, and disability golfers playing too.
“I think that should be the step forward in golf in general now, incorporating ladies, men and disability golfers into one event.”
Niall Horan is in Lawlor’s management corner (Image: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry)
Having honed his game during lockdown with the help of a newly-purchased TrackMan and a golf simulator, Lawlor feels sharp on the course.
And away from tournaments, he now has popstar Niall Horan in his management corner and the world-class facilities of Carton House at his disposal.
Lawlor said: “Carton House has offered me an honorary lifetime’s membership. It’s absolutely incredible as it’s a fantastic club.
“It just fits me perfectly. The members are lovely and I’m getting lessons up there, so it’s the right fit for me at this time.
“I’ve also been lucky enough to join the team at Modest Golf [run by Niall Horan]. They enticed me to turn professional and have been very supportive in so many aspects.
“I was lucky enough to play a round with Niall in the World Invitational Pro-Am.
“Niall is a legend. He’s just like one of the lads. He’s so down-to-earth and what he does for all types of golf – ladies golf, disability golf, able-bodied golf – is Trojan work, and I’m very grateful for it.
“He’s a really good golfer himself and he’s a lovely, lovely lad.”