HUDDERSFIELD golf professional Dan Konyk smashed his way to victory in the American Golf UK Long Drive Championship.
Konyk, 40, rolled back the clock to produce a series of enormous drives – including one of 430 yards to take down the reigning U.K. champion and several European Tour champions. It was his fourth win in the event and came 18 years after his first.
Dan reigns supreme yet again in the U.K.
Konyk was scheduled to go on and represent American Golf and the U.K. in the World Championships in the U.S. this month.
After securing victory, Konyk, who owns Woodlands Driving Range in Barnsley, said: “To win back the U.K. title for the fourth time and 18 years after my first is an incredible feeling.
“I’ve trained hard for the American Golf Championship and have been showing signs of my best form for the past few weeks.
“It all came together though and I was really pleased to post a top drive of 430 yards. The competition and set-up that American Golf has put on is as good as I’ve seen in 20 years of Long Drive and every competitor rose to the occasion. I had to be at my best to win against some great hitters so to get the job done is incredibly satisfying.”
It was clear from the seeding rounds that the bar was going to be set high. In the first set the championship record was smashed by Max Armstrong who sent out a 454-yard monster. Konyk held his nerve though, qualifying tied fourth with a 420-yard drive.
Konyk took care of 2016 U.K. Champion Lucas Dornan in the quarter-finals, a victory made sweeter following social media sparring in the run-up to the final. The semi-final against Alex Robertson was perhaps the best match of the day with the Yorkshireman having to pull out his 430-yard best to win through. Robertson can feel unlucky having recorded two marks over 410 yards and still losing.
The final brought together Konyk and German champion Timo Petrasch. Despite some huge hits, nerves got the better of Petrasch as he struggled for direction. Konyk took the first set with 389, but Petrasch won set two with 384.
In the deciding set, Konyk’s experience came to the fore. The German didn’t manage to record a legal drive, but Konyk stepped up and, needing just to get a ball in play, sent out a 401-yard winner to take the victory and book his place in the World Championships.
Konyk is no stranger to the World Finals, but feels that this year could bear dividends.
“To win qualification for the World Championships is a great opportunity and I can’t wait to represent the U.K. and American Golf at the highest level,” he said. “This will be my 13th World Championships and if I can carry this form forward then I’ve got a real chance of bringing the title home.”
BECKI COMES SO CLOSE
HOWLEY HALL’S Becki O’Grady recorded a personal best and took down the defending champion en route to third place at the American Golf UK Long Drive Championship for ladies at Heythrop Park in Oxfordshire.
O’Grady’s drive of 302 yards - her first time over the magical 300 yard mark in official competition - saw her oust 2016 champion and world No 3 Rebecca McGinley in the quarter-finals.
But in the semi-finals she lost to 14-year-old Elle Gibson, from The Shire, Herts - who had qualified in second spot with a 326-yard hit.
O Grady told Yorkshire Golfer: “I was very happy with my own performance. I hit it 300 yards or over twice in competition, which was a nice achievement.”
Her qualifying drive was 271 yards, and she credits the extra 30 yards she has found to coaching from Mark Pearson, at Oulton Hall.
The winner was 33-year-old Glaswegian Ilona Stubley, who beat Gibson with her last drive.