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AVERAGE golfers grumble because they can't get out of a bunker but Britain's number one seated player moans when he can't get in.

Liverpool's 52 year old Tucker Chance - the retired comedian continues to use his stage name - was disabled by polio when he was nine months old and can only get around with crutches and a wheelchair, which doesn't stop him being among the keenest disabled golfers.

In fact, at the end of his best ever competition season he is officially rated number one despite being a "seated" player, not allowed to stand to play the ball.

"I used crutches when I first started playing but there were problems with that, " the Kirkdale-born player explained.

"I would take my stance while on the crutches. Once I was ready a helper would take the crutches away and I'd complete the swing. And believe me you get a whole comedy routine from the results."

Eventually Tucker ended up playing from a Handigolf buggy, a three-wheeler with a swivel seat allowing him to address the ball and use a full swing with the golf club.

"It is brilliant because apart from giving me a lot more independence and being able to take it in the back of my estate car, the seat projects out from the buggy.

"The rules say I must remain seated, yet the design allows me the chance to put a foot on to the grass when swinging."

Tucker hits the ball well and claims 300 yards windassisted in summer, but being long and sometimes a little astray means he sometimes finds his ball in the sand.

"Big problems here, " he grimaced. "Everything is fine if the bunker is large and shallow so that I can enter it with the buggy - otherwise I have to take a 'drop' and that incurs four penalty shots."

There are special R&A rules for disabled players who can receive large handicaps depending on their disability.

Tucker plays off 35, having taken a big drop last season following a terrific run finishing second in the Lincolnshire Open, Southport Open and the Bolton Metro Disabled Golfers Championship.

He was also fourth in the National Championships, fourth in the European Championships and third in the French Open.

"My dream is to fly to South Africa for the World Championships, " said Tucker.


BUNKER TROUBLE: Tucker Chance struggles at bunkers
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 10, 2002
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