U.S. ADAPTIVE OPEN

Popert and Bish Go Wire-to-Wire at Sand Creek Station

By JC Sites, USGA

| Jul 10, 2024 | Newton, Kan.

Popert and Bish Go Wire-to-Wire at Sand Creek Station

The first day of the 3rd U.S. Adaptive Open saw the lowest scores in the history in the men’s and women’s divisions of the championship, recorded by Kipp Popert (65) and Bailey Bish (69), respectively. Today, on the final day of the championship, Popert and Bish followed through on those record rounds by claiming victory at Sand Creek Station.

For Popert, this isn’t new territory. The Englishman won the 2nd U.S. Adaptive Open held at Pinehurst No. 6 course in 2023. With rounds of 65-66-71, Popert adds another U.S. Adaptive Open trophy to his shelf and becomes the first overall winner in either the men’s or women’s categories to go back-to-back.

Popert, 26, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth and competes in the Neurological Impairment category. This victory follows a strong stretch of play for Popert, who in February claimed the Golf for the Disabled (G4D) Tour Magical Kenya Open Presented by Absa. He finished T2 at another G4D Tour event in April. Popert came into the final round of the U.S. Adaptive Open with a commanding 6-stroke lead over Irishman Brendan Lawlor and continued his impressive run to the title, besting Simon Lee by 4 strokes in the end.

Popert maintained his steady play on the outward nine holes, making two birdies and just one bogey for a solid 35. A double bogey on the par-5 10th could have derailed his round, but Popert – ever the gamer – proceeded to birdie three of his next eight holes. While no round in a USGA championship is ever stress-free, Popert made the final round at Sand Creek Station look like it was just another day on the golf course. 

"I would say just winning is – I guess people consider it hard," said Popert after his victory. "I consider it fun. I enjoy all of the pressure. As I say, I made double down 10 but I was like, all right, let's go show them we're still winning this thing despite a little trip. Yeah, very proud of myself."

Kipp waves to crowd

Kipp Popert raises his hat after finishing his round on the 18th hole during the final round of the 2024 U.S. Adaptive Open. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Bailey Bish, who competes in the Neurological Impairment category after being diagnosed with dystonia and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, held a commanding lead after her record first round but faltered to a 78 after day two. The 24-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., started her final round with bogey-bogey-double bogey, which brought 2022 U.S. Adaptive Open winner Kim Moore and defending U.S. Adaptive open winner Ryanne Jackson into the mix. Bish, however, quickly fought back after her slow start and made her first-ever eagle on the par-5 4th to pull four shots clear of both Moore and Jackson at the time.

 Earlier in the week, Bish noted that playing in this championship has been a remarkable turnaround for her, and she repeated that sentiment after her final round. “Before I came to this event I was hoping that I would have a shot to win this thing,” she said. “And then during the tournament I wasn't thinking about it at all. Just thinking about one shot at a time and seeing where I ended up at the end of the tournament.” 

Though Bish shot a 3-over 39 on the outward nine and double-bogeyed the par-5 10th, she kept her concentration throughout a tough final round with two former champions chasing her down. Every time Moore or Jackson seemed to be making a move up the leader board, Bish would get her game back on track. She made 8 straight pars on her inward nine after that double bogey on 10.

“I had a very rough first few holes and ended up eagling the 4th hole, which is my first eagle ever, so that was very exciting,” said Bish. “That just built momentum and I was able to keep playing well throughout the rest of the round. It was a struggle out there, but we managed to pull through and put up an okay score today.”

Bailey smiles

Bailey Bish smiles with her caddie after making par on the 12th hole during the final round of the 2024 U.S. Adaptive Open at Sand Creek Station. (Kathryn Riley/USGA)

The following players take home medals for being the winners of their respective categories: Cathy Walch, Buford, Ga. (Upper Limb Impairment, women); Chris Willis, Canada (Upper Limb Impairment, men);  Natasha Stasiuk, Canada (Intellectual Impairment, women); Simon Lee, Republic of Korea (Intellectual Impairment, men); Kim Moore, Battle Creek, Mich. (Lower Limb Impairment, women); Mike Browne, England (Lower Limb Impairment, men); Rose Veldman, Los Angeles, Calif. (Multiple Limb Amputee, women); Issa Nlareb, Cameroon (Multiple Limb Amputee, men); Bailey Bish, Tucson, Ariz. (Neurological Impairment, women); Kipp Popert, England (Neurological Impairment, men); Annie Hayes, Lee, Mass. (Seated Players, women); Max Togisala, South Ogden, Utah (Seated Players, men); Brendan Lawlor, Ireland (Short Stature, men); Amanda Cunha, Kaneohe, Hawaii (Vision Impairment, women); Kiefer Jones, Canada (Vision Impairment, men)

What the Champions Receive

  • Both Bailey Bish and Kipp Popert were awarded gold medals and receive custody of their respective U.S. Adaptive Open trophies for one year. They also each earn five-year exemptions into the championship. 

  • Each of the 15 category winners earn exemptions into next year’s 4th U.S. Adaptive Open, to be held July 7-9, 2025, at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.

Issa

Issa Nlareb plays a shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the 2024 U.S. Adaptive Open at Sand Creek Station. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Notable

  • Issa Nlareb became the first Cameroonian to play in the U.S. Adaptive Open and finished with 4 birdies and no bogeys on his inward nine in the final round. He finished with rounds of 71-72-67 and won the multiple limb amputee category for men. Nlareb suffered from bacterial meningitis in 2018. The prognosis led to the amputation of both legs and multiple fingers. 

  • After rounds of 81 and 85, Amanda Cunha, who plays in the Vision Impairment category, shot only the second under-par round of the week (Bailey Bish, Round 1) in the women’s division, firing a 1-under 71. Her 14-stroke improvement from round to round was the biggest of the championship and the best final-round score in the women’s division. 

  • A number of players who missed the cut were out in support of their fellow competitors. Kyle Erickson and Ryder Barr missed out on the final day of action but stuck around to follow the final group. Alex Fourie, Michael Nicholson, Brandon Canesi and others were also spotted walking the course.

  • Women’s Overall champion Bailey Bish recorded her first-ever eagle on the par-5 4th hole. 

  • Ford Martin of Nashville, Tenn., made an impressive run to claim low-American honors in the men’s division. After opening with a 75, he fired a 2-under par 70 on Tuesday and a 6-under par 66 on Wednesday.   

  • Sarah Lawson missed the cut but she stuck around for Wednesday’s final round to caddie for Lower Limb Impairment category player Mike Browne. 

  • Kipp Popert, Simon Lee and Brendan Lawlor were the only three male players to break par each day of the championship.

Quotable

“It's crazy. I've never shot this low in an official round, so being able to shoot 71, 1-under par, is just crazy to me. I can't even like explain it. Coming into the 18th hole, I actually had no idea what I was shooting because my dad didn't want to tell me the entire back nine what I was at. So I didn't really think about it, yeah.” Amanda Cunha, 20, Kaneohe, Hawaii; winner, women’s Visual Impairment category 

“Well, it was a spectacular week. I really enjoyed how the different tees allowed for all the competitors to have similar irons into the green instead of just meeting in the middle of the fairway. That made it more level playing field, and so we got to see a lot of great scores from all different levels.” Chris Willis, 43, Canada; winner, Upper Limb Impairment category 
 
“I learned that it's hard to play golf, and even if there are challenges, you can push back and keep going. The mistakes will get overwritten by other accomplishments.” Bailey Bish, 24, Tucson, Ariz.; overall women’s champion 

"When I'm 70 years old with a bottle of wine, I'm hoping and working towards being recognized as a great of the game, so I've got a lot more to achieve." Kipp Popert, 26, England; overall men's champion

“There were two Americans in the top 10 last night, Chad and I. And we were lucky enough to play together today. We talked about it a little bit out there, us both wanting to catch up to the Europeans at the top the leaderboard…To be the low American is just incredible. It's surreal right now. Like I said, this is my first Adaptive Open, so being the low American is awesome. We're going to get that U.S. Open on the American side here soon.” Ford Martin, 31, Nashville, Tenn.; low American in the men’s division

“A lot of experience. It's not only my first round in this USGA Open, but it's also my first time in America. It's a big experience.” Issa Nlareb, 33, Cameroon; winner, Multiple Limb Amputee category