LAS VEGAS — Local golfer Justin Young finished sixth in the ReMax World Long Drive Championship after Thursday’s final.
The North Surry and SCC golfer qualified for the championship at a long-drive event in Tennessee over the summer.
Against pros who travel the states for these regional long-drive competitions, Young advanced from the field of 128 to 32 on Monday, then from 32 to eight on Wednesday.
For the final eight, the competitors were shown on live TV on ESPN3 and via the ESPN website.
Before the men approached the tee box, the announcers noted that there was a strong crosswind working against them.
Most great drivers put a slight right-to-left draw on the ball, which creates top spin to help the ball roll farther.
With the wind coming from the right, too, many balls were blown out of bounds on the left of the 40-yard-wide landing area.
A 120-foot-wide grid sounds plenty wide, but from 400 yards away, the participants likened it to staring down a narrow bowling lane.
In fact, in the senior division semifinal (45 and older), top-seeded George Slupski couldn’t stay inbounds on any of his six tries and was disqualified.
Young drove his best ball 355 yards, equal to Eric Lastowska’s winning drive in the senior division. However, that didn’t get him into the top four on Thursday.
Ryan Winther, who was the favorite coming into the final, had the longest drive of the opening heat at 393 yards. Jamie Sadlowski was second at 389, Tim Burke third at 385 and Landon Gentry fourth at 379.
Those four moved on to the semifinals.
By the final, the wind and nerves led to shorter distances off the tee. Winther’s winning drive was just 343 yards, and Burke was second at 335 yards.
Still, the high finish has earned a lot of attention for the Mount Airy native. Young will be getting some sponsorship help with equipment and could begin taking part in some of the regular long-drive events across the country.