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Armed with a seven-iron and a baseball grip, De los Santos found that not only could he hit the ball vast distances, but also that he still had natural balance. Unable to keep himself away, he would arrive every morning and stay until dark. The people running the centre were so impressed that they told him he could hit as many balls as he liked and they would not charge him. He took them at their word and did just that, hitting thousand upon thousand of them. "My first few shots at the driving range went over 200 metres, the guys working there couldn't believe it," remembers De Los Santos he inaugural ISPS Handa Senior World Championship, which with his thousand megawatt smile. "But golf was held at Mission Hills in early March, made for compelling is a lot like baseball; actually it's easier because viewing – not least because it saw Sandy Lyle claim his first the ball doesn't move. I have good hand-eye tournament win in 19 years. But as great as Lyle's victory was, coordination." To say the least. De Los Santos' game is the star of the week was undoubtedly Manuel De Los Santos from the Dominican Republic, who has a handicap of two and also aided by his physical strength. His arms are enormous and his powerful right leg helps the far greater physical handicap of just one leg. him maintain his balance on De Los Santos, who plays his follow through. While he without the help of an artificial walks between shots with the aid l i mb, wa s at t he world's of crutches, he hops across the biggest golf club on behalf of putting green until he holes out. the tournament sponsors and His reasoning for not wearing showed his remarkable ability a prosthetic is simple. "Golf is a by notching a tidy three-oversport and I am an athlete, so I par 75 over the Jack Nicklausshould walk," he says. designed World Cup Course Such is De Los Santos' ability during the Pro-Am prior to the that he has played a few events event. Those who witnessed him on the French domestic tour smashing his drives nearly 300 and has won tournaments for yards and chipping and putting handicapped golfers throughout with a deftness that would have Europe, including the biggest of pleased most of the pros in the lot, the Swedish Invitational attendance were left in awe and Open, in 2008. His goal now is came away – and I count myself to get down to scratch. among them – inspired. Which " I a m a l ready l iv i ng my is exactly what the 26-year-old dream; travelling the world wants you to feel. and playing golf and meeting Little did he know it but De interesting people is something Los Santos' golf ing journey I could never have imagined," he began at the age of 18 when he says. "I am so happy. I've been was struck by a car while riding given a second chance with my his motorcycle and awoke from a life and for this I am eternally coma four days later to discover grateful." that his left leg had been cut off The surprise of my time with above the knee. A promising De Los Santos was learning that young baseball player who had he has an 11-year-old son. "Yes, scouted interest from the Toronto my son, he is a great baseball Blue Jays, De Los Santos was Balancing Act: player, I hope he can fulfill my understandably shattered; his Manuel de los Santos original dream of making it to dreams of playing in the Major the Major League," he responds. League extinguished. "But you're only 26; you were 15 when After his accident, he moved from his home in the Caribbean to Paris, with Elena, his wife, and attempted to get his life back on track. He freely admits that he was born?" I reply, my A nglo Sa xon mentality getting the better of me. He lets it was a struggle and took time to adjust to living in the French capital. Then he came across The Legend of Bagger Vance — a Will Smith film about a golfer out an enormous laugh. "Oh yes – you have defeating adversity — and was himself inspired. The next day, he took himself to to remember that I am from the Dominican Republic. We start everything early there." his local driving range and became hooked.


Alex Jenkins spends time with Manuel de los Santos, arguably the world's most remarkable golfer



HK Golfer・APR 2011



Alex Jenkins spends time with Manuel de los Santos, arguably the world's most remarkable golfer HKGOLFER.COM 98 HK GOLFER・APR 2011 final sho...