RORY McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the world’s number one and two golfers, would give some of their considerable fortunes for a Ryder Cup record to stack up against the target set by an unknown golfer from the North East.
Five miles down the road from the Medinah Country Club in Chicago, where the Ryder Cup starts tomorrow, Darren Grey has maintained an astonishing record.
The Fightmaster Cup, also 12-a-side, follows the same formula as the Ryder Cup – except it is for one-armed golfers and it finished in Chicago at the weekend.
The former world one-armed champion has dropped only one and a half points over the three stagings of the tournament.
Every two years, this version of the world’s most televised golf tournament is contested between Europe and North America and in the same vicinity as the real Ryder Cup.
It is named after an American, Don Fightmaster, now in his 80s but once described by Time magazine as “the Arnold Palmer of one-armed golf”.
The Disability Ambassador for the Golf North Show, Grey’s dominance of the Fightmaster Cup is such the pride of the Dinsdale Spa club in Darlington has every right to regard himself as the Seve Ballesteros of the sport.
The cup was first played in Kentucky in 2008. America triumphed, but whether it was foursomes or fourballs or singles made no difference to Grey. He won all his five matches.
In 2010 the match moved to Wales where Europe tasted success. This time it was four wins and one defeat for Grey.
Chicago 2012 at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort brought another victory for Europe by a 20½–7½ margin with four wins plus a half for Grey.
Grey, a 27-year-old eight handicapper, will be a powerful motivational factor when he coaches youngsters with disabilities at the golf show staged by Middlesbrough Football Club at their Riverside Stadium next month.
He is also the Disability Ambassador for the Durham County Golf Partnership and is helping to drive new projects for the county body.
Grey works for Dimensions in Darlington, who provide living support services for people with living disabilities and autism.
He is one of four golf ambassadors for the show joining European Senior Tour player and top coach John Harrison, Kimberley Crooks, a former member of the Ladies European Tour and ex-Boro football legend Craig Hignett.
Grey said: “Some people who have disabilities might think golf is not for them.
“However, I know how changes in coaching methods, new forms of golf and new technology can give them a lot of fun.
“They do not necessarily have to be able to play a full 18 holes – new developments like 60-60 Golf, for example, are offering a golfing challenge while on the driving range.
“It is important we make everybody aware of the options available.”
Born in Hartlepool, Grey moved to Darlington with his parents Phil and Jean when he was just eight months old.
Phil, a self-employed telephone engineer, is a member of the Darlington club.
He said: “Darren was born without the lower half of his left arm.
“Jean and myself have always instilled in him not to worry about what he can’t do but to focus on what he can do.
“Thankfully, he has listened to us and we are very proud of what he has achieved, but it is a shame none of the golf governing bodies recognises the Fightmaster Cup.
“Everybody who plays in it has to raise their own air fares and cover all their own expenses.”
Grey had to find just under half of the £1,000 cost of his journey because he was helped by the county golf partnership and the golf clubs at Dinsdale Spa, Darlington, Consett, Rockliffe Hall, Slaley Hall and Wynyard.
He has memories beyond price, including a drive at the 137-yard fourth during one of the fourball sessions.
It was looking all over a hole in one until it lipped out of the cup.
Grey added: “The PGAs of American and Europe are always good to us.
“All the players were shown all round Medinah and we saw inside both the team rooms for the Ryder Cup.
“Although the R and A recognise our world championships, it is a pity that is not the same for the Fightmaster Cup.
“Everybody who watches us who has not seen us before is always amazed at the standard of play.
“I am looking forward to the Ryder Cup, and to watching Rory McIlroy.”
BOOKING tickets in advance for the Golf North Show at the Riverside Stadium on October 19-21 entitles a golfer to a free round at Ryton Golf Club. Visit golf-north.co.uk.