Ward captains GB team to victory in the Simpson Cup
AMPUTEE golfer David Ward has made a piece of sporting history.
The 48-year-old former soldier, who was seriously injured in the Kegworth air disaster, was captain of a British team who won the first-ever version of the Ryder Cup for disabled serviceman.
Ward captained the 13-strong team to an 11.5-6.5 victory over two days at the world-famous Sawgrass course just outside Jacksonville, Florida.
The tournament was the result of work by the On Course Foundation, which helps injured service people get back into sports.
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The cup was named after the man behind the charity, John Simpson, who accompanied the British team to Florida.
Ward, who was so badly hurt during the disaster that the lower part of his right leg had to be amputated, said: "The tournament was really massive – we had Tony Jacklin (former US Open and Open winner) as our honorary captain."
Ward was joined on the team by another Plymouth golfer, Nigel Beasley, who was injured on active service during the Falklands War in the 1980s.
Ward saw his side take a 4-2 lead on the first day after a four-ball competition.
The British side stretched the margin of their victory during the singles' matches the following day.
Ward said: "It took us two years to get this ready and the competition was everything people said it was going to be. It was fantastic.
"I was deeply honoured to be made captain and winning the tournament was a really good feeling, especially as it was the first one."
Ward was badly hurt when a civilian aircraft he was travelling on was diverted en route to Belfast with engine trouble.
The crew were advised to put down at East Midlands Airport, but collided with an embankment of the M1 motorway.
The ensuing crash claimed 47 lives, one of them Ward's fiancee, from 126 passengers.
Another 74 were badly injured, including Ward.
Ward, who was a soldier with the Royal Corps of Transport, was unconscious for three months and broke his neck, plus most of the bones in his body.
He said: "It's unbelievable to think it happened 24 years ago.
"I broke every bone except my right arm and I still receive treatment on my back and neck to make them as comfortable as possible. I still get aches and pains.
"But you've just got to get on with it and move forward.
"We're planning to play the Americans again next September at the Royal Lytham & St Annes course."