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Wild card wins RE/MAX Southern Africa Long Drive ChampionshipOn Saturday 8 September, 16 of South Africa's top long drivers teed-up at the Copper Leaf Golf and Country Estate to face off at the Southern African final of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship to see who would walk away with top honours and the R50 000 grand prize.
This year's event was filled with exciting action seeing the long standing Southern African Long Drive record of 435.2 metres broken in the qualifying rounds of the competition by long-time competitor Nico Grobbelaar, who blasted one past everyone with a distance of 462.9 metres. While Grobbelaar made it through to the final round of the competition, 2012 would not be his year and the title was taken by Keith Starke, a newcomer to the sport who had only qualified the day before the final.
Peter Gilmour, Chairman of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says: "This year marks the 15th anniversary of the RE/MAX Long Drive event in Southern Africa and, as each year passes, we have seen the competition grow massively in popularity. Every year it gets that much tougher, and this year was no exception. All the finalists were of an incredible calibre and anyone of them could have won it on the day."
The 2010 and 2011 defending Southern African champion, Erik van der Walt was unable to make the final round and left the competition before the semi-final stages. During the final round David Melman posted a drive of 348.3m to take third position overall, while Joe van Wyk’s shot of 354.2m gained him second place. Keith Starke clinched the title with a drive of 369.2m.
Although the distances posted in the final never threatened the new record with the longest drive of the day being 401.2m, which was hit by David Melman during the semi-final round, the action never failed to keep spectators enthralled. "Globally the RE/MAX World Long Drive has cemented its place as one of the annual highlights on the sporting calendar for golfing fans and players alike, and, judging from this year's competition, South Africa has embraced the event with both arms," says Gilmour.
As the winner of the Southern African leg of the championship, Starke will represent South Africa and join long drivers from 30 other countries at the 2012 International RE/MAX World Long Drive event, which will be held in the US later this year. "RE/MAX of Southern Africa wishes Starke all the best for this upcoming event, we are sure he will do the country proud," Gilmour concludes.