Military Long Drive: Heidelberg Soldier wins regional competition
August 13, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Staff Sgt. Tafuna Oney, U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg operations, qualified for the finals of the 2009 Military Long Drive Championship to be held in Mesquite, Nev., later this year by winning the regional event for Europe at the Heidelberg Golf Club Aug. 8.
Oney, who also won the long drive contest at the Heidelberg Open last month, fired his best shot 346 yards to win by 10 yards over his closest competitor, Sgt. Bryan King of Stuttgart. Jordan Albers of Ramstein was third with 319 yards.
"Although the turnout was small, those who participated really gave it their all, and competed with determination and spirit," said Lamar Porter, Heidelberg Golf Club assistant manager, of the four total competitors.
Oney hit the winning ball with his drive of 346 yards on his third set of tries. Participants had two hours on the sixth hole to best each other's shots, and as the time kept winding down, King inched closer and closer to Oney's score. King reached 336 yards, followed by a shot that went 350 yards but trickled out of bounds. King's next set of tries had his best ball out past 375 yards, but again, curved a little right and went out of bounds.
By the time the final whistle blew, Oney's long drive proved to be the winner.
"I felt good about the 346 (yard drive) I shot, but Bryan was getting in a groove. There was lots of time left and I started to get a little nervous," Oney said. "He won the competition last year, so I knew he was good. But when he showed up with four different long drivers made for these types of competitions, and all I had was my regular driver, I knew I had to work for it."
As winner of the Europe Region finals, Oney will receive an all-expense paid trip to Mesquite to compete in the 7Up 2009 National Military Long Drive Championship and a chance to win $10,000.
King took home a $200 Pro Shop gift certificate, and Albers of Ramstein AB received the third place $100 Pro Shop gift certificate.
"It feels great to know that I get this opportunity to represent our region," said Oney, who started playing golf when he was 5. "I will not take this opportunity of a lifetime lightly. I hope to do everyone here in Europe proud."
Qualifying rounds also are being held at 19 locations in the United States. The 20 area winners will be flown to Las Vegas to compete for the $10,000 top prize at the Mesquite finals Oct 20.