Taranaki 20-year-old Sam Jones has been crowned the Trident Homes New Zealand Long Drive Golf champion after winning a playoff at Clearwater Golf Resort this afternoon.
Jones who is currently studying at the University of West Georgia in the USA under a golfing scholarship won the North Island Long Drive Championships held at Papamoa last week and then had to take on the South Island Champion for his place at the world championships in Oklahoma in August.
Jones was behind after the first three shots of the eight-ball playoff against Iain Dick who won the South Island event. His best shot was 284metres with Dick on 287metres, however on the seventh shot Jones was able to long drive 297metres, 10metres ahead of Dick’s best shot to seal the victory.
“Winning this event really opens up a few doors for me. I was watching the South Island competitors all day and seeing how the wind had gone from behind the long drivers to across the course more. It’s great to get this title and I’m really looking forward to the world champs. It’s been some difficult conditions over the past couple of weeks, but great to come through,” said the left-handed Jones from Manaia in South Taranaki who is home on a holiday break from the United States.
Jones will travel to the Volvik World Long Championships August 31 – September 6, 2017, at the WinStar World Casino and Resort, Thackerville, Oklahoma in the United States where there is US$270,000 in prizemoney, however as a result of NCAA university rules in the United States he won’t be able to take any cut of the prizemoney if he wants to retain his scholarship.
“The golf scholarship is pretty valuable and there’s some very strict rules to accepting prizemoney for anything, so we’ll look at that, but it’s something I hadn’t really thought too much about, I just wanted to win the NZ champs,” said Jones.
British golfer Joe Miller won the 2016 world championships with a drive of 386metres.
Earlier in cold conditions Dick won the South Island event in the top four shootout by the narrowest of margins, hitting 299metres ahead of Paul West on 298.5metres and Alan Stroud 298metres and Mark Sheppard from Balclutha on 278metres in fourth.
The longest drive of the day was by Stroud with 314metres with Dick hitting 312metres in the early rounds.
An international Long Drive event will be hosted in early November at Remuera Golf Club in Auckland with some of the biggest long drivers from around the world set to take part.