Kipp Popert stormed into the lead at the English Open for Golfers with a Disability and then revealed his long-term goal is to make it as a professional on tour.
The Kent golfer’s one-under par round of 72 gives him a five-shot lead over defending champion and current world number two George Groves.
Popert – who has cerebral palsy affecting the lower half of his body – carded three birdies in his round.
With 18 holes to play, the plus three handicapper is well placed to follow up his victory in the 2019 Algarve Cup with his own national title.
On a day of bright sunshine at Whittlebury Park in Northamptonshire, Popert took control after he recovered from a bogey five at the first hole.
He picked up shots at the third, fourth and 11th and was annoyed at missing out on another birdie at the final hole.
However, Popert was still pleased with a bogey-free back nine as he takes another step on the road towards his ultimate golfing goal.
“My next aim is to play in the Paralympics, but long-term my goal is to have a European Tour career as a professional,” admitted the University of Birmingham graduate.
“It’s a real challenge, but I have the backing of my parents who are both doctors and my clubs at Wildernesse and Royal Cinque Ports and I’m determined to give it everything
“I’ve finished university now and can dedicate more time to golf.
“If you think that in the last 30 years the greatest advancements have come in technology and medicine. That augurs well for the development of disability golf.
“I don’t see why in the next 20 years things can’t change.
“Once you develop a technique that generates the power, a key element to golf is from 100 yards and in. That’s what I love about this game – it provides an opportunity to go as far as you want in the sport.
“I had major foot reconstruction in 2016 and 2018, but then won the Algarve Cup – my first EDGA win – in 2019 before Covid struck.
“I also play county matches and able-bodied events as well as championships like this one.”
Popert’s one-under par round couldn’t be matched by anyone in the field and he goes into Thursday’s final round in fine shape.
However, with water a feature on key holes and undulating slopes making scoring tricky, Popert knows he will need to aim for red figures on day two to get over the line.
“You always want to win and I’ll take tomorrow as it comes,” he added.
“The win in Algarve was my first EDGA event and I had a nice up and down to win so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
“There are a lot of big carries on holes, but I missed it in the right places and that helps.”
Groves (pictured above) had five birdies in his round but was undone by a triple bogey at the par five eighth hole and a double at the 10th. However, he’s a proven winner and will not give up his crown without a fight.
Bradley Smith (Royal Cromer) and Tom Beard (Druids Heath) are a further shot behind Groves on five over par.
Beard is also two shots clear of Crosland Heath’s Sam McDonald in the men’s net competition.
In the women’s net competition, Camberley Heath’s Nicky Weeks (pictured above) leads the way after a four-over par round of 77.
Graeme Mazur from Enville set the early pace in the Stableford competition on 36 points.