A team of injured soldiers from the British armed forces emerged victorious in a Ryder Cup style match against opponents from Australia staged at the Celtic Manor Resort.
The Battle Back Golf team won all three days of competition to secure a convincing 15-5 triumph over the visitors from the Soldier On Foundation.
Battle Back gained an early four-point lead in the opening day fourballs on the Twenty Ten Course and went on to win the greensomes on the Montgomerie Course and the final day singles back on the Twenty Ten to retain the Clyde Pearce Trophy.
Team captain Matt Whisken had his right leg amputated below the knee after an improvised explosive device detonated on the military vehicle he was travelling on in Afghanistan in 2012.
He said: “When I was rehabilitating at Headley Court I knew there would be no more football or rugby for me so I needed a new sport. The guys there introduced me to golf which has been great for my rehabilitation – both physical and mental.
“You’ve still got that military ethos to feel part of a team with the banter and the camaraderie. You come together as a team and you work together to get the win which we’ve done over the last three days here. I’m chuffed to pieces.
“We’ve had a great week, we’ve been really well looked after and what a fantastic venue to hold it at.”
Australian opponent Damien Thomlinson added: “The golf courses are beautiful, so well prepared and maintained, and everything about the organization has run like clockwork. It was ridiculous, which really left that time for everyone to sit down and have that camaraderie and really get to know guys from other countries with similar experiences.”
Three Welshmen – Keith Davies from Burry Port, Kieran Flowers from Cwmbran, and Jason Heathfield from Cardiff – were all part of the victorious Battle Back team and Major Andrew Barnett from Merthyr Tydfil had a non-playing role as Battle Back Golf Chairman.
Major Barnett said: “Golf is such an important part of the rehabilitation process for these injured soldiers. The handicap system in golf means they can compete with other players at all levels. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got one leg or no legs, so long as you can hit that golf ball you can compete against the very best people.”
The visiting golfers from both sides warmed up with a round on the Roman Road Course against Celtic Manor members before teeing off in the match proper.
The Celtic Manor Resort www.celtic-manor.com
Battle Back Golf www.golf4heroes.com/battleback
Soldier On Foundation www.soldieron.org.au