VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Simon Lee walked up to the podium in front a packed Player Hospitality tent and joyfully greeted the room. He then read a speech from his phone that brought the crowd to its feet.
“My special thanks go to my parents,” he said. “They pulled me out of darkness and made me walk through the light of the world.”
At the U.S. Adaptive Open, players competed in eight different categories. Lee, a 25-year-old professional from South Korea, was one of 10 players in the intellectual impairment category, having been diagnosed with autism at age 3. Lee finished the 54-hole event knotted at 3-under 213 with Felix Norman of Sweden, a 25-year-old with tuberous sclerosis who competed in the same category. Just last year, Norman had brain surgery to remove two growing “lime nodules.”
The pair squared off in a two-hole aggregate playoff, which Lee won by two thanks to a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th that he said felt like a dream. After locking up the men’s division title, supporters doused Lee with water as he shrieked with glee.
“Today I played with my mind of thinking, I can do it, I can do it, I can do it,” Lee told the media after the round. While many of his answers took a good deal of time to formulate, those four words poured out with gusto.
Kim Moore, 41, won the women’s division by a commanding seven strokes thanks to a final-round 76. Born without a right foot and a severely clubbed left foot, Moore played collegiate golf at…