Four years after a heartbreaking runners-up finish, New Zealand’s Jamie Reid has blitzed the field to claim the Speedgolf World Championships crown in the United States.
The New Plymouth local, who was already ranked No 1 in the world, smacked and sprinted his way to a maiden world title at the World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida, on Wednesday (NZ time).
Speedgolf places equal emphasis on both strokes and time, with players aiming to shoot as low as possible while getting around the course as quickly as possible.
And, having had to settle for second place in 2018 in New York after losing out to Finland’s Mikko Rantanen by just one second on the time tiebreaker, Reid made sure to avenge that, in the two-round event which saw the other Kiwi in the 36-man men’s field, Robin Smith, finish sixth.
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Reid laid down the challenge in the opening round, posting the equal-best golf score of the day, though his one-under 71 was achieved in 43 minutes and one second – some 10 minutes and 54 seconds better than Rantanen’s was carded in, and the Kiwi’s score of 114:01 (strokes plus time) was 16:59 under the 131:00 by, ahead of only Smith, whose 76 in 46:49 gave him a score of 122:49.
While Japan’s Jin Ota (who finished second) beat Reid’s second-round four-over 76 with an even-par 72, the Kiwi speedster’s pace proved influential again, racing around in 43:35 compared to Ota’s 49:18.
That gives Reid a second-round score of 119:35, and a 233:36 overall total (29:24 under par), with Ota finishing on 252:18 (10:42-under), as Smith slipped back with his 85 in 48:25 for a total of 255:74 (6:46-under).
It caps off a big 2022 for Reid, who in May set a new unofficial world record with his score of 100:18 at the Fitzroy Golf Club being the lowest ever achieved, albeit on a course slightly shorter than the standard 6000 yards.
Having only taken up speedgolf in 2017 when placing third at the New Zealand champs, Reid, having not come from a running background, then put a big emphasis on that side of his training.
“I like the challenge – it’s a lot harder to play golf when your heart rate is high, and the fitness side of it. It’s so much quicker, it’s half an hour instead of four hours,” he told stuff earlier this year.
“I run as hard as I can and then take a few deep breaths then hit the ball. I try not to overthink the shot which helps – often that’s a problem in golf – people overthinking their shot.
“It’s a great sport if you don’t have time for regular golf – instead of three and a half hours, you can complete the course in half an hour and jump back in the car.”
Reid and Smith will now turn their attention to the Team World Cup event in Florida – a one-day event which features 18 holes of alternate shot play before the field is reduced to 16 teams for seven holes, with the top four qualifiers playing three holes of best ball to find a winner.