by B.E. Lewis, RDPFS intern:
This year’s 2023 Adaptive Open marked a second victory for 19-year-old Amanda Cunha. Cunha’s medal in the women’s visual impairment category marked her second time atop the women’s field in Pinehurst. She said: “I definitely want young people who are visually impaired, doesn’t matter if they’re boys or girls, to know that there are ways for you to have a lot of fun [in golf].” At 16, Cunha seemed on her way to a brilliant future as a sighted golfer. She was playing in the prestigious North and South Junior Championship at Pinehurst as one of Hawaii’s top juniors. Shortly after returning home, her future in golf veered toward a different course. In 2021, Cunha was diagnosed with Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a genetic mutation that causes nerve damage affecting central vision. Although it rarely progresses to full blindness, there is currently no cure. By pursuing blind golf, Cunha has been able to continue to excel in the sport, as her medal at this year’s Adaptive Open proves. For more about Cunha’s background and accomplishments, read the USGA webpage here on the U.S. Adaptive Open: 20/20 Foresight: Amanda Cunha is changing Adaptive Golf.