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Golf greats club together for quadruple amputee Alex Lewis
IT'S the cream of the crop when it comes to golf.
From champions Jack Nicklaus, Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy to Hampshire's own Justin Rose, they are all on the list.
But though this week's Open is approaching, it's actually a young dad from a Hampshire village who has brought them together.
While the international sporting superstars compete to be champion at Hoylake, off the course they are clubbing together to get golf-mad quadruple amputee Alex Lewis new limbs by donating rare prizes for a fundraising auction.
And the list of auction lots beats a hole-in-one for any golf fanatic.
On offer is a bespoke tour bag made especially for Martin Kaymer for the reigning US Open Champion's homecoming to this year's BMW International in Germany, a signed tour bag from Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson's manufacturer is making a unique named bag to sign and there is even a rare 2012 'Miracle of Medinah' Ryder Cup picture signed by all 24 players and the captains.
However Hampshire's Justin Rose, 2013 US Open champion who cruised to victory in the Scottish Open at the weekend, has made the 34-year-old from Stockbridge speechless with his generosity.
Alex's golfing hero has offered up a trip of a lifetime which is hoped could reach £30,000 to raise cash for the dad who became an amputee and lost part of his nose and lips when a simple cold turned into a killer bug.
The highest bidder will get two business class flights to the Bahamas and a two night stay at the luxury Albany resort including dinner and golf with Justin.
The auction, which is still awaiting lots from Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington and other star names, is now live and will finish at the end of a charity golf day at Hampshire Golf Club in Andover on Wednesday, August 6 organised by Alex's friends Andrew Taylor, Chris Bagley, Andy Snellgrove and Malcolm Jarvis.
The 18-hole fundraiser sponsored by Srixon and Cleveland and featuring a hole in one prize will begin with a shotgun start by Hampshire's Spitfire Shoot at 9.30am and includes a hog roast and raffle.
The man behind the celebrity auction is Sky Sports golf reporter and European tour coach Tim Barter.
He coached Alex, who played golf for Hampshire County Juniors when he was just 15, and was moved to tears by the Daily Echo story detailing Alex's positivity despite contracting Streptococcus A which led to septicaemia and toxic shock syndrome.
Tim told the Daily Echo: “I couldn't believe what I was seeing. His strength of character and positivity in the face of what had happened was beyond my comprehension. I immediately said I would do whatever it takes to help as much as I can.”
With that, whichever tournament Tim went to in the world, he asked the golfing stars to all pitch in.
“I have been overwhelmed by what these international players are prepared to do for Alex. They are the biggest superstars in golf but everyone I have spoken to has said they will do whatever they can to help. Martin Kaymer even hunted me down the following day after already donating a driver to say he needed to do more.
“What Justin Rose has donated is just mind boggling. It's just amazing.
“I have been trying to decide which charity to support with a rare signed picture from the Ryder Cup in 2012 that was signed by all the players after I interviewed them, but what better cause to donate it to.”
All money raised from the event will go to the Al Lewis Trust set up to fund his rehabilitation costs and prosthetic limbs.
Alex, who is now out of hospital after undergoing his fourth amputation and will attend the Open this week with best friend and carer Chris Bagley, last night told the Daily Echo he was stunned.
He said: “It is off the scale and you would just never think it in a million years. This sort of thing is once in a lifetime stuff for any golf fan.
Alex, who trained alongside Justin as a teenager, added: “I recall playing golf at the same time as Justin Rose at Botley Park and being in complete awe, he was always destined for something special. "Some signed caps would have been amazing but this is just incredible.”
Who has donated what?
Justin Rose - a trip of a lifetime to Bahamas with the golf pro and golf balls
Martin Kaymer - signed bespoke tour bag and driver
Bubba Watson - signed Masters' flag
Miguel Ángel Jiménez - signed cap
Rory McIlroy - signed tour bag
Richard Bland - signed The Open 2007 flag
Tim Barter- 2012 'Miracle of Medinah' Ryder Cup signed picture
Lee Westwood - signed caps and driver
Phil Mickelson - signed visor, signed glove and signed 2013 Open flag
Darren Clarke - taylor made signed driver
Paul Casey - signed cap
Graeme McDowell and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano - signed cap
Colin Montgomerie - signed shirt
Jack Nicklaus - signed Masters flag
Alvaro Quiros - signed driver
Tony Jacklin - signed poster
Rickie Fowler - signed driver
To see the online auction go to www.jumblebee.co.uk/alex-lewis
To support Alex go to www.alex-lewis.co.uk
To donate to Alex go to https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/diiy9