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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Brave Beal returns
Andy Beal
Beal is aiming to reclaim his tour card
Golfer Andy Beal returns to the European Tour on Thursday, six months after his left eye was removed because of cancer.

The Salisbury professional has received a special invitation to play in the Compass Group English Open at the Forest of Arden near Coventry.

Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Justin Rose are the big names taking part, but for Beal the tournament is a golden opportunity to test whether he can make it back on tour full-time.

"It's suck-it-and-see time," said the 36-year-old.


As time goes by things are getting more normal
Andy Beal

"I've also been given a place in the Great North Open [at Slaley Hall] in two weeks' time and if I play well maybe a few more invitations will come.

"Otherwise it'll be the qualifying school at the end of the season."

Beal returned to competitive golf in regional events in April and has been practising hard as he tries to adjust after the operation.

"As time goes by things are getting more normal," he said.

Special coaching

"My putting's still not quite as sound as it used to be and bunkers are the biggest grey area.

"It's difficult to judge where the club is hovering and to avoid a penalty for touching the sand [before the shot]. The tendency is to hold it too high.

"But I went to see my coach Dennis Sheehy in California a couple of weeks ago.

"That was very productive, as was the half-day we spent with a scratch golfer there who is also an optometrist and has looked into putting from a scientific viewpoint.

Artificial eye

"It's not rocket science, but he gave me a few ideas about judging distance one-eyed and being properly aligned.

"It's important because the brain works on balance as if you've got two eyes."

In between the two tournaments that he has so far been given invitations to, Beal has another big date.

"I get a new artificial eye which is moulded to fit the muscles behind and should be a lot better than the current one, which is a bit like an off-the-shelf number," he said.

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