BANDON — Irishman Rob Hogan claimed the title at the second Speedgolf World Championships at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort over the weekend, using a blazing running time and solid golf scores each of the two days to beat a field that included 23 other elite golfers and runners.
“I feel great, fantastic, delighted,” said Hogan, who took the top prize of $15,000. “When I played here last year, I set a goal of coming back and playing better.”
Hogan was seventh in the inaugural championships at the resort, when his fast running times were contrasted by scores that were higher than a number of the other golfers — a player’s total combines his golf score and running time.
This year, Hogan had the top running time both days, despite the presence of Olympians Nick Willis and Bernard Lagat.
Hogan blazed through the resort’s Old Macdonald course on the opening day Saturday, finishing in 39 minutes and 31 seconds. That was at least four minutes faster than all the other golfers, and his score of 77 was bested only by defending champion Chris Walker, who shot a 74.
On Sunday, Hogan toured the Bandon Dunes course in 41:24. His score of 79 was higher than 11 others, but, combined with his time and his effort on the opening day, he took an easy victory.
Hogan’s times were a few minutes faster on both courses than last year.
“I’m fitter,” he said, adding that he has joined a running club in Ireland.
He also has improved a technique he started using last year of putting one-handed while holding his speedgolf bag in his other hand — the other players all take time to put their bag down on the green before putting.
Hogan’s combined score of 236.55 placed him far ahead of runner-up Eri Crum of Boise, Idaho, who finished at 242.34. Crum did have the best speedgolf score for Sunday’s round, shooting 73 in 44:31.
“I had a few good bounces today,” said Crum, adding that he hit the ball as well Saturday, but wasn’t rewarded on his scorecard.
Unlike Hogan, Crum is new to the sport. The former teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford University played as an amateur in a tournament at Portland before joining the elite field in Bandon and quickly fell in love with the sport.
“I’m going to start playing all these events,” he said.
Matt Dehlin of Portland, who was second after the first day, finished third in the tournament with a total score of 250.06, barely ahead of last year’s champion, Chris Walker of Texas (250.38). Scott Dawley, another Texan, was fifth (2:53.39).
As for the Olympians, Willis had the better two days. But that’s understandable since he has played golf recreationally for several years during his running offseason.
Willis, who had the second fastest running time each day, was in sixth place after the tournament’s first day, when he shot 86 in 44:20. But he slipped to 13th overall Sunday with his score of 97 in 43:07.
That didn’t dampen a sudden love for the sport.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Willis, who is from New Zealand, but lives in Michigan. “I’d absolutely love to come back if I get invited again.”
Lagat does not have an extensive background in golf, though he has been practicing steadily since his last race in September.
He struggled in Saturday’s opening round with a score of 118 in 48:26. But he improved Sunday to a 110 in 47:38.
“It was really fun today,” said Lagat, adding that he was spurred on by a par on the second hole and hit the ball better.
He can’t wait to play again.
“Nick said yesterday, ‘I’m hooked,’” Lagat said. “I’m seconding that. I’m hooked, too.”
Willis and Lagat helped draw a bigger audience to the resort for the two days. The event also had a big following on the Internet as it was broadcast live on Oomba.tv. Officials with the company said at its peak Sunday, about 25,000 people were live-streaming the tournament on their computers.
The golf scores generally were better Sunday, when conditions were perfect for the elite golfers with dry skies and no wind.
Two players shot even par 72, including Christopher Smith, one of the three cofounders of Speedgolf International, the group that puts on the tournament. Smith caught a bad break Saturday, when the wind picked up for the later players and he shot a 78. Smith finished eighth in the tournament.
The other 72 was turned in by Jaacob Bowden of Switzerland, who finished 14th overall.
In addition to the elite golfers, 26 amateurs participated in an age divisions at Bandon Dunes on Sunday.
The winner was Ben Stickney, a sophomore at Lincoln High School in Portland, who shot an 81 in 53:54.
“I played pretty well,” said Stickney, who also competed in last year’s event. “I had super-high confidence coming in.”
Stickney joined Lincoln’s cross country team this fall and said he had his best time in a race on Wednesday. He also shot a 73 in his practice round Saturday.
“Last year, I took over an hour and I shot 10 strokes worse,” Stickney said.
Results for both divisions are included in today’s Scoreboard.