St Andrews’ Paul Ellison will take part in a history-making event at Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open this morning when he plays in the first of the European Tour’s new partnership with the European Disability Golfer’s Association (EDGA).
The first EDGA Scottish Open, being played over 36 holes on the same-set-up as the main event, will tee off before the main field at the Renaissance marking the European Tour’s new commitment to regular competition for disabled golfers at the same venues as the main Tour.
A second competition will be staged at the Tour’s final event, the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai in November, but the inaugural is being staged today with an international, field of competitors.
Paul is one of the caddie masters at St Andrews Links, having looped himself on the Old Course for 20 years despite suffering from Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, a gene abnormality which causes nerves in the spine to deteriorate progressively.
But the 43-year-old remains an avid and accomplished player, and qualifies to compete in this weekend’s event as the highest-ranked home player in the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD).
“For us to be part of this tournament set-up is just exceptional,” said Paul. “EDGA and European Tour have done a great job and I hope this will be a stepping stone to do more. It’s a great opportunity for everyone involved.
“My preparation for the event has been very good. I obviously still work for St. Andrew’s Links Trust, but whether it be before work or after, I’ve tried to put in as much preparation time as possible.
“My game’s been good, but this will be a big challenge – obviously the golf course is considerably more difficult to what we’re used to. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The EDGA Scottish Open field features the top six in the WR4GD – with George Groves of England the current World No 1 – a player nominated by the USGA in Chris Bigginsand another from Golf South Africa, three-time World One-Armed champion Reinard Schuhknecht.