Golfer without legs or eight fingers on hands

Amang was the big rising star of sub-Saharan African golf. He had won the professional Senegal Open the previous month

by Andrea Gussoni
Golfer without legs or eight fingers on hands
© Harry How / Getty Images Sport

In the outstanding list of golfers who meet at El Encín (Alcalá de Henares) between Friday the 27th and Sunday the 29th, none has a story as fabulous as Issa Nlareb Amang, the player with the best handicap (+2.8) of all.

the participants in the Daikin Madrid Open for adapted golf players in one of the best tournaments on the continent.

Issa Nlareb Amang, story

Amang, from August 1, 1990, has no legs. And none of the fingers on the left hand.

His right hand - three fingers amputated - is also damaged. The Cameroonian's disability is the result of a very difficult episode in Egypt, when he was preparing to play a scoring tournament for the Alps Tour, the third division of the DP World Tour, the European Tour of a lifetime, that of Seve and company, near Suez in the east of the country.

A bacteria caused severe meningitis, with a mortality rate of 50 percent. That led to septicemia and he fell into a coma for five days, which made him urgently admitted to a hospital. There the illness and a bad diagnosis, they thought it was the flu, led to something worse.

He was about to die. After three weeks in Egypt, he was repatriated to his country and treated at the Yaoundé General Hospital. Given the lack of improvement in his clinical condition and the emergency of his condition, it was decided to send him to the Saint-Luc Hospital in Brussels (Belgium) for the amputation of his feet and hands, affected by gangrene, and the placement of prostheses.

Amang was the big rising star of sub-Saharan African golf. He had won the professional Senegal Open the previous month and was the first golfer from that region to enter the Alps Tour. His recovery was meteoric. In August, now a father of three, he returned to the golf courses with the help of a crutch.

On September 13, as you can see on his Instagram, he was already making a full swing. Two years later, in 2020, he returned to the scene. He sported prosthetics on both legs and was not even close to the options of the rest of the players.

He shot 76 and 88 shots. But he had won the battle. Because golf "is my life", as he repeats. He had come to sport by chance. He lived next to a golf course in Yaounde and his mother drew water from the river between the 10th and 11th holes.

At a premature age, when he was 11 years old, his mother died. "I became disoriented. At night I looked for balls and sold them," she said in France. He would sneak into the field to play with yucca stems. Or he would hit the ball with empty champagne bottles that the wealthy partners had abandoned in the trash.

He was self-taught. He learned from watching people play and from magazines that fell into his hands. One day an American gave him a 3-iron, his first club. He became part of the club's caddy group and there he met Francoise Collet, ambassador of the European Union in Yaounde, the woman who changed his life.

"My second mom." She was the person who served as a patron many times and the one who covered all the expenses of his hospitalization. Collet introduced her to people who corrected her defects. In 2014, at 24 years old, he was already the best player in the country.

His growth was constant until the cursed illness. "I thought worse, I thought it was malaria," he recalls. In that match of his return, in 2020, Luis Vega was included, a golfer from Madrid, with a degree in Mathematics and Business Administration, who has now developed a system called Premium Quality Guarantee for golfers who need personalized remote training via WhatsApp.

"I didn't know his story and it's impressive. I found out that day and since we were wearing long pants I didn't know that he didn't have legs either. I remember that he had Velcro straps on his wrists so he could hold the club.

He played with a buggy and then around the green "He moved with a crutch. It was very inspiring to see him play." Vega praises the swing "taking into account everything that has happened. And it is true that perhaps he hit less than us, but not much less.

He did not sing at all. It is impressive how human beings can overcome themselves in that way." The following year she found the prize and with three birdies in the last four holes she made the cut for the tournament that opens the third category of regular European golf every year.

He finished 51st. She was the only player who has passed the 26 tournaments he has played that count towards the world ranking led by Scottie Scheffler. "Obviously it was difficult for me to come back here, but I did it. I feel like I've been reborn in a way," says the golfer who now lives outside Toulouse, France.

Who knows if, with a wild card, he could be seen in Paris at the Olympic Games alongside Jon Rahm, among others, this summer.