While American Chad Pfeifer stole the limelight with is successful title defence in the Canon SA Disabled Golf Open, a young teenager from Bloemfontein quietly scaled the heights to record a hat-trick of wins last week.
Enrique was diagnosed with hemiplegia as a toddler. He suffered swelling on the brain that caused injury to the part of his brain that control the movements on the left side of his body, including his arm, leg, face and trunk, but Enrique never let these limitations slow him down.
An active boy, there was a lot of rough housing between Enrique and his older brother Attie and when the older sibling began to excel in golf and earned Free State colours, Enrique was intrigued.
His parents enrolled him in the First Swing Programme in Bloemfontein.
This very successful development initiative of the South African Disabled Golf Association offers tailor-made coaching to children with special needs, disabilities, debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy and also to children who are wheelchair bound.
Enrique enrolled at the age of nine and is currently among more than 1000 disabled children across South Africa who are coached by the First Swing Programme.
For seven years, Enrique watched and applauded as Attie racked in the trophies, but this past week at King David Mowbray it was his time to shine.
And what a way to celebrate your 16th birthday!
One of the youngest competitors in the field at the 2017 Canon SA Disabled Golf Open, Enrique showed no signs of stage-fright when he went up against 21 international champions from 13 countries.
He toured King David Mowbray Golf Club in rounds of 40, 47 and 37 and his score of 124 points saw Enrique successfully defend his title in the Les Autres Physically Disabled Division for 19-36 handicaps and he also retained his Under-23 title in the 0-36 handicap division.
But this year, the 16-year-old beat out the field to win the Overall Physically Disabled Stableford Division for handicaps 19-36.
“In 2015, I won three divisions, but last year I only won Les Autres and Under-23, because Flip Brink beat me for the Overall division title,” said Enrique. “I really wanted to win all three again, so I worked extra hard to prepare for this year’s championship.
“Golf is my life and I love competing in the Canon SA Disabled Golf Open. All the FSP learners from all over the country get together and we have a lot of fun. I also get to compete at my own level. We forget about our disabilities. We play golf and we have fun. It is my week to be spoiled. I’m really proud of my achievement, and it was extra special to collect all my trophies on my birthday.
The emerging young star has also beaten abled-bodied juniors in the last three years. He won the C-Division in the Glacier by Sanlam Junior Tournament in 2014 and achieved a second place in 2015 and third place in 2016 in the same series.