Williams feeling sharp ahead of SA Open defence

Canadian Josh Williams wants to hit the ground running in his title defence at the 2015 Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open, which tees off from 4-6 May.

Williams, a three-time Canadian Amputee Golf Championship winner and North American Amputee Golf champion, jets into South Africa this weekend and is geared to take on the champions of the South African disabled golf circuit at Zwartkop Country Club.

Williams broke the strong South African grip on the disabled golf’s flagship event last year when he claimed an unchallenged a four stroke victory over three-time champion Daniel Slabbert at Zebula Golf Estate. Now the Canadian hopes to make it two-in-a-row.

“It was a really big honour to win the South African Open and I am extremely keen to defend my title, although I am sure the South Africans will have something to say about that,” Williams said.

“I was part of the Canadian team that competed in the first World Cup of Disabled Golf the week after the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open, so it made sense to give the tournament a shot, but I never expected to enjoy myself so much.

“The organisation of the event was world class and the setting in the Bushveld was unbelievable. It was my first international victory outside Canada and America, and it was the first time ever I received a trophy from an elephant.

“Those are the once-in-a-lifetime experiences I will treasure always.”

Williams was just six years old when he was swept under a boat.

His left leg was struck by the propeller of a 70-horsepower engine and had to be amputated just below the knee. Having lost his leg at such a young age, the Canadian has never known anything different than using a prosthetic.

“I find my leg limits me in very few isolated incidents on the golf course,” Williams said. “I’ve played with some amputees around the world who play with just one arm, like South Africa’s Reinard Schuhknecht, and still hit scores in the mid-70s.

“I’ve played against guys missing both legs or a leg and an arm and it’s just amazing to see what these guys are capable of.

Williams says he loves a challenge and he knows he can expect one from Slabbert, Schuhknecht and some of the rising stars in South Africa.

“When I compete with the best and I see how they are playing, I compete better,” he said.

“I love to chase and to come from behind. I’m good at picking away at the leaders until I catch up to them.”

And that is exactly what he did in last year’s event, chasing down Slabbert and overhauling him for victory.

Win or lose, Williams is relishing his return to South Africa and the chance to test himself against some great competitors.

“I really enjoyed my first trip to South Africa,” he said. “It’s exciting to come back, to test myself at the new course and some new players and to explore another part of the country.”

The tournament will be played over 54 holes in various disability divisions including Leg Amputee, Arm Amputee, Les Autres, Visually Impaired, Wheelchair and Hearing Impaired.

The player with the lowest aggregate gross score is crowned the overall championship.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Disabled Golf Association.

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