Wednesday 26 June 2019

Man on a mission

Arklow's William Hunt-Tyrrell claims Long Drive crown

Arklow golfer William Hunt-Tyrrell in action.
Arklow golfer William Hunt-Tyrrell in action.

Brendan Lawrence, Sports Editor

Arklow golfer William Hunt-Tyrrell is looking forward to an even brighter 2019 after enjoying a superb season this year that saw him claim the 2018 American Golf U.K. & Ireland Long Drive Championship (over 45s) and finish just outside the top eight in the world championship in Oklahoma.

Hunt-Tyrrell is no stranger to the sporting landscape of the Garden County, with a litany of golfing and athletic titles to his credit, and his recent return to his beloved sport of long drive after a lengthy break promises huge things for the Arklow native.

Viewers of Sky Sports on Wednesday evening, October 24, will have seen William claiming a sweet victory in the 2018 American Golf U.K. & Ireland Long Drive Championships having only returned to the sport in March of 2017 after 13 years away from golf entirely where the successful businessman was focused on his career.

William met a tough challenge in the semi-finals against 2015 champion Steve Kent who took him to a third set before taking on Gavin Beddow in the final.

The Arklow Golf Club member returned to the championship after the disappointment of hitting 413 yards last year but not finding enough consistency in his game.

'It's absolutely brilliant,' was William's reaction to winning. 'After last year's finals I've focused on training hard five days a week. I took it serious, got some help from Long Drive coach Lee Cox and left no stone unturned'.

And that hard work paid off when he took the first set with a drive of 354 yards. But he was then reigned back in through Gavin Beddow's consistent hitting in the second set to take it to the decider.

William remained composed though, and in a marked change from 2017, sent out a series of enormous hits to take the final set and the title.

A hugely talented golfer (played off scratch as a teenager), William was always a long hitter and a chance discovery of a competition by a golfing colleague sent him on a road that sees him in a very positive place going into next season.

'Basically, one of the lads said that there was a competition there and I was always a long hitter. I went in and I got a club and won it. That was in the Slieve Russell in 2001. I qualified for the world championships out of that. I hit the fifth best hit in the worlds that year just after starting,' said William.

'Then I went along through Europe. There was a tour going in Europe and I was on top of that tour for a few years. I won the Austrian Open with a carry distance of 415 yards and that was over the world record at the time. Karl Woodward, from England, had the world record at the time and we tried to ratify it. I got it ratified from the Brandlhof Hotel in Salzburg and they ratified it themselves. The reason why it was not deemed a world record was because the tee-box was a meter over the landing area and you're meant to only have a foot.

'That was in 2004 and I qualified for the worlds on the grid out there in Mesquite (Nevada), and went out, but through business and all that I had to leave early and then I saw that I couldn't do the two (work and long drive), I had to pick one and I picked business.

'I gave it up totally. I was away from 2004 until last year until Killian Mullet asked me out for a round of golf, and I got the bug again, you know yourself, started looking at technique. That was the thing years ago: I was always the longest, but I hadn't perfected the technique, I just learned naturally off the father. We worked off straight lines, but straight lines wasn't the way, it's the Hogan swing is what I've worked on now, coming from the inside, and that's what's given me the consistency this year,' he added.

'In 2017 I went into the American Long Drive, I had hit the 45 years or over and I said I'd give this a whirl. That was in the February, the first qualifier was in Dublin in April, so I won the Irish Championships and I hit the longest hit of the whole championships, there's no one in Ireland hitting longer, even young fellas. I hit 417 yards, that's still the record in the competition. But my consistency wasn't great.

'This year I put in a hard winter's training for this season, got in tow with Lee Cox, he is Joe Miller's coach, he was the world champion in 2010 and 2016.

'He started putting me through a couple of points and working on consistency, and then with the consistency I was starting hitting the grid and once I knew I was hitting the grid I started getting the speed back up. I was hitting 147 swing speed, now I'm getting back up to 138, 135, that would be word standard.

Victory in the British championships earned him a spot in the worlds in Oklahoma. A slow start and weather complications saw him finished just outside the top eight on the planet and proved to Willian that he is very capable of beating any of those top eight competitors on his day.

'I went over to the world championships, it was in Oklahoma, it was over two days. I qualified from the first day's hitting. On the way I bet last year's world champion, Jeff Crittenden. I was very nearly getting into the last eight of the worlds. I had a bad start. Our group of nine were rained off, so we warmed up, then we had to cool down, then it was called off for a while.

'Eventually, we ran it in the rain, we had to do it for the TV, went in and qualified, and then they were going to run it that night, so we had to warm up twice more, and then they called it off and then they wanted us back at 7am.

'If I was going to do it this year, I'd go over there maybe three or four days before just to acclimatise.

'I started off very slow that day. There are five rounds and you play against five players, the first two rounds I only got 75 points and I was in 14th position, but when I finished the rounds, I was ninth.

'And Eddie Fernandez, who won it, I was leading him in that round right until he h9it the last ball. I have no doubt now that I can beat these guys. I bet another guy in one of the rounds, Kevin Blenkhorn, I got him in one of the rounds and he had won the previous tour event. It has given me a look at it that will make me train even harder. I'll definitely come back stronger next year,' he said.

The programme on Sky Sports Golf featuring William in action is being repeated presently. Check out your TV guide for more details.

William Hunt-Tyrrell career stats:

1: 2001 broke the Irish long drive CARRY record 353.335 yards (where it lands) by 42 yards. It was set up on the 10th fairway Arklow GC. Ratified by Jimmy Byrne Engineer (still stands).

2: Hit 415 yards CARRY winning the Austria 2004 Open final unofficial over the world record of 408y at the time. Won tour events around Europe 2001-2004.

3: Arklow Golf Club is setting up a Irish record attempt next summer to break the Irish record again in Arklow Golf Club.

4: Won the Irish Independent paper Golfer of the month April 2001.

5: Competed in worlds 2001, 2004 Open, 2018 +45.

6: Returned to long drive in March 2017, after 13 years away from golf. Got to the semi-finals in the American Golf Long Drive 2017 while getting the longest ball in Europe 45+ and setting the new championship the 45+ record 417 yards carry and roll which still stands.

7: Won the American Golf Long Drive Finals 2018. First shown Wednesday at 7pm last. Finished ninth in worlds just missing out the final eight sudden death by 25 points.

8: Won the 2017 and 18 Irish American long drive Golf 45+, but also out hit the men's Under 45's distance.

Atheltics career:

1: Started athletics at 16, within one year won the discus and shot under-17 Irish titles.

2: Won 17 Irish titles in discus and shot, many Leinster, and 36 Irish in total. Second in a European under-19 and others.

3: Won the BLE Athletics Bank Of Ireland star awards 1989.

4: Just this year received a framed presentation from BLE Lenster of a long-standing shotput record for 1990. Only longer standing record in Leinster athletics is the 100m relay team.

5: Went back to athletics over 40s and won the two Leinster and Irish shotput and discus titles. Also added an indoor Leinster men's (any age) title, and the 56lbs for distance Irish title over 40s.

Wicklow People