He might have lost a leg in a car accident but Manuel de los Santos never lost his natural balance. He didn’t lose his vision or his dreams.
The former baseball is set to achieve his dream of teeing off at the home of golf as one of Europe’s top disabled players.
Mr de los Santos had his left leg amputated aged 18 when he was knocked over by a car but he refuses to wear a prosthetic limb.
Instead he has relied on his balance and perfect swing to achieve a handicap of just three.
And the Dominican Republic-born golfer prefers to use crutches than ride a buggy between shots. ‘I’m an athlete. I walk,’ he said.
Due to his overriding love for golf, to play the sport professionally is his dream, and after making start on minor tours around France, De Los Santos now has the chance to showcase his remarkable achievements on European golf’s second tier circuit at the Hauts de France Golf Open.
Following the news, the golfer said on his official Facebook page: ‘It’s such a beautiful privilege for me to be invited to this great event. I would like to thank the Aa St Omer GC for supporting this very ambitious project and Alain de Soultrait, the Challenge Tour Director, for his trust.
‘My dream has come true,’ he said. Mr de los Santos only took up golf after moving to France with his Spanish wife Elena following his accident in 2003.
One evening she brought home the film The Legend Of Bagger Vance – about a golfer overcoming adversity – and he noticed the golf swing was similar to the baseball swing. He was instantly hooked. ‘I hit four balls and I immediately felt good. I felt well balanced. I said that’s what I can do! Let’s go!’ In 2005 he joined the French ‘Handigolf’ association and with a tough training schedule after six months won the Spanish Open.
‘I decided to devote myself 100 per cent to golf,’ he said. ‘I felt ready to consider a new life and start a new struggle to get results.’
The 25-year-old is playing alongside able-bodied amateurs and professionals at St Andrews in a four-day tournament starting tomorrow.