11 Feb 2024 | Long drive | Participation |
Bovalina stamps his World Long Drive ticket at Castle Hill
by Jimmy Emanuel
The four-event Australian Long Drive series has come to a dramatic conclusion in Sydney, with Jordan Bovalina taking out the overall title and securing himself a ticket to 2024 World Long Drive Final in the USA.
Held after the third round of the Webex Players Series Sydney at Castle Hill Country Club, the final event saw the opportunity to hold the qualifying for the Sydney swing on an open grid. It was a change the eventual winner, New Zealand’s Greig Mooney relished.
Moving through qualifying with the second longest hit of 338.3 metres behind Matthew Nicholls’ 348 metre pop, Mooney progressed through the quarter and semi-finals before unleashing a 346.6 metre bomb to claim the Sydney title.
“It's great, the banter, we all came over on the same flight, the three kiwi boys, and we didn’t care who won it, so long as someone went well,” Mooney said.
“Obviously I won the day event … just didn’t come with the goods in the (series) final, which is disappointing.”
Facing off with Bovalina in the Long Drive Tour Final, which featured the qualifiers from the four series event, Mooney couldn’t find his best stuff, while Thomas Holz made his second showdown of the day.
With a crowd watching on after the conclusion of the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia and WPGA Tour of Australasia event, it was Bovalina who found the grid early despite nerves to triumph with 306.8 metre shot that claimed victory by just 80 centimetres.
“Especially leading up to the set, it’s quite nerve racking,” Bovalina said.
“It is by far my best win. I’ve had a couple and usually it’s been some good hitting. I kind of just scrapped it around today and got a ball in early and that gives you a bit more confidence and it was enough to do the job done.”
Contested in Atlanta this coming August, the World Long Drive Final will offer US$400,000 in prizemoney with Bovalina, who hails from Cobram, having a second chance after making the trip last year.
The newly minted Australian champion offered praise for the series of events and regular chance to compete in the growing sport of Long Drive that has been embraced by Golf Australia as part of the “All golf is golf” element of the Australian Golf Strategy.
“It’s been awesome. To Golf Australia and everyone involved, to have regular events, run as well as they’ve been, at some awesome locations around Australia, and some courses that are pretty awesome, you put in the Aussie PGA into that as well, stuff you dream of really,” he said.
Having learnt plenty on his 2023 US sojourn, Bovalina is not heading to Atlanta simply for a holiday. The Aussie champion has a bigger title in his sights and thankful for the financial assistance that confirmed a trip which was uncertain if he hadn’t claimed the title on Saturday.
“The first year, as much as I thought I could win, it was really an experience. This year I want to win. I saw where I was at, I hit it really poorly both days and was really, especially the first day, was right in the mix, and second day wasn’t far off either,” he said.
“So I know if I can get my game going and hit my lines, there’s plenty to play for.
"There’s some guys that can really play, but you’ve got six balls and anything can happen.”
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