Alex Fourie’s unlikely journey from a Ukraine orphanage to the U.S. Adaptive Open

Having worked at Golf Digest for more than 13 years, I’ve been fortunate to interview plenty of big names. It’s an incredible perk that never gets old, but none of those chats has left me feeling as in awe as I was after talking to Alex Fourie. Alex isn’t a PGA Tour star or a celebrity golfer, but he’s one heck of a player, and he deserves to be famous for what he’s doing on and off the course. His infectious attitude, however—especially considering all he has been through—might be most amazing.

“I hit the lottery,” Fourie says. “That’s what I tell people.”

Most would argue otherwise. Fourie was born near Chernobyl in 1992, just six years after the biggest nuclear disaster in history. The radiation seeped into the rivers near Fourie’s hometown of Zvenyhorodka in present-day Ukraine. That poison eventually passed down from Fourie’s birth mom, causing him to be born without a right arm—and with a cleft lip and palate that would eventually require 22 surgeries.

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