DISABILITY SPORT: Mike Gays saves his best until last to clinch world crown
PUBLISHED: 15:10 13 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:23 13 March 2018
Huntingdonshire has a new world champion – and he could hardly have clinched the crown in more dramatic style.
Brampton man Mike Gays powered to glory with the final shot of the World Amputee Long Drive Championship in America last week.
Each player had 24 attempts on each of the two days of competition at the Mesquite Sports & Event Complex in Nevada.
Gays led at the halfway point with a 329-yard effort, but a change in wind conditions meant that was quickly bettered during the second day when he initially struggled to compete with some of his rivals.
But the 29 year-old saved his best until last when launching his closing effort to a mighty 358 yards to take victory.
“It’s a great feeling to be world champion,” said Gays. “Getting on the podium was my goal, but to win it is brilliant.
“It was a bit surreal initially, but it has sunk in now and hopefully this win will open a few doors for me.
“It was very strange to be hitting the ball into a cold wind on the opening day considering we were in the middle of the desert!
“It was pleasing to be ahead at the halfway stage, but as soon as the weather warmed up and the wind changed direction, I knew that wouldn’t be enough.
“My lead disappeared pretty much straight away on the second day and I wasn’t getting close to a couple of the guys who had hit further than me in the first couple of sessions.
“I was still behind them by a few yards in the third round despite doing plenty of work on the range to try to keep the ball lower and gain some extra distance, but I hit two or three really good shots in the final session before nailing my very last ball.
“I never expected to be anywhere close to that distance and it was a big shock when they announced me as the winner.
“It had looked like it wouldn’t be my day, but I’m obviously delighted. It’s just a shame I was so jet-lagged that I couldn’t celebrate too much.”
Gays has been invited back to America at the end of April to take on top able-bodied golfers in another long drive event, but work commitments may prevent him from taking his place.
He will now revert his focus to the more conventional form of the game with a number of European Disabled Golf Association events ahead this year. The first of those is the French Open in May.
Gays is currently 19th in the world disability rankings, but hopes to climb higher during the coming months.
Gays was born with a condition called fibular hemimelia, which meant he had no fibula in his right leg. He underwent a below-the-knee amputation procedure in 2014.