Keller, Martauz with HBK/Golf HQ Long Drive

By Greg Gulas moc.1713747173liamg1713747173@tset1713747173aerGr1713747173efloG1713747173 CANFIELD – Down to his final shot, Ken Keller is proof you only need one last shot to win a championship. The YSU and former Cardinal Mooney golf standout used his final shot to launch a 312-yard drive, three yards better than Griffin Todd, to win the 7th annual HBK-Golf Headquarters Greatest Golfer Long Drive competition Wednesday at Tippecanoe Country Club. Ursuline High and Point Park University product Lauren Martauz, who finished second in 2017, won the Ladies Long Drive crown with a 218-yard drive, five yards better than Katie Rogner. Richard Gent placed two of his three iron shots inside the four-point circle to beat David Cooper, 9-5 in the Par 3 competition. Keller’s long drive win was suspenseful. With a one-club wind straight into the golfers’ faces all night, Keller had not broken 300 yards in the qualifier. He and Andrew Murphy landed 298 yards in the grid to make the final three — nine yards behind the leader, Todd, who went 307 yards. In the three-shot championship round, Todd led the way again, landing at 309 in his first two shots while Keller and Murphy missed their two shots. With Keller’s last shot the only thing in the way of a Todd win, Keller found his best of the night at 312 yards and just one foot inside the grid. “On my final shot, the only thing I was thinking was swing straight, stay straight and let Mother Nature take over,” said Keller. Todd’s victory-lap final shot instead became a win-or-lose shot. With an eager crowd watching, it landed outside the grid. “This is the third time that I competed in the Long Drive contest, never making it to the finals my other two years,” said Keller. “So to win it all is a very special feeling.” Former YSU golf standout Felicia Ciotola Drevna won the last two ladies titles and was seeking a three-peat. Martauz placed two of her four shots on the grid with her 218-yard effort, five yards better than Rogner’s 213-yard drive and eight better than Ciotola Drevna’s 210-yard effort, the only one of four attempts that she kept in play. “My goal was to do the best that I could and I was obviously pleased with the outcome,” added Martauz, who is an accountant at HD-Davis CPA’s, LLC. “My strategy was to place my first two tries on the grid and then go all out on my last two attempts.” Cooper’s 11 points led the Par-3 shooters in the qualifier round. Merrill Whippo scored 10 and Gent 9. All Gent wanted to do was qualify, knowing full well that anything could happen once you advance to the finals. “You can’t win it all unless you get to the finals,” Gent stated. “I compete with my friends but to win this year’s Par 3 event is something special to me. Prior to my last attempt, I received a text from a golfing friend telling me that my first two shots were close, just put a little more oomph on my final attempt. “I was just glad that I didn’t put it in the water.” Gent placed two shots in the tough 10-foot circle toward his winning, nine-point total. Cooper finished runner-up with five points, while Whippo finished third, a point behind Cooper. “Our Long Drive event just seems to get better every year and with good reason,” noted Todd Franko, event founder and coordinator. “We had a close competition this year in both the men’s and ladies’ divisions while our Par 3 event went down to the wire as well.” Michael Spiech, Tippecanoe golf pro who is currently in his 17th year at the club, likes how things have progressed in each division. “We’re having an absolute blast,” Spiech said. “I think it’s because the players get to experience Tippecanoe Country Club and our facilities. It’s fun to see the Greatest veterans and familiar faces each year and we’ve gotten to know all of them when they play the club. “A special thanks goes to Jim Hammond and Valley Industrial Trucks for donating the lights for the Par 3 Shootout.”