2010-09-29 / Sports

Hopper denied victory by smallest of margins

By JOE L. HUGHES II Ledger Sports Writer joe@gaffneyledger.com

HOPPER HOPPER Golf is truly a game of inches.

Gaffney native Patrick Hopper has found this out all too often this year, most recently Sept. 18 at the Long Drivers of America (LDA) Mile High Pro Long Drive Shootout just outside of Denver, Colo., in which the difference between a victory and second place was a mere seven inches.

“Just lost by seven inches,” Hopper said. “That’s about the third time it has happened; it’s always pretty aggravating to be so close only to lose in the end.”

Shooting into the thin air of the Heritage at Westmoor Golf Course in Westmintser, Colo., Hopper seemed destined for victory, striking a shot 400 yards and five inches. However, Kevin Shook of Sarasota, Fla., would one up the local golfer, posting a drive of 400 yards, 12 inches; just enough to win the tournament and its $10,000 prize.

Shook’s seven-inch margin of victory is one of the lowest in LDA Tour history, nearly invoking the organization’s six-inch rule, causing a sudden death playoff to occur.

“Basically, I won by one inch,” Shook said following the event to Long Drivers of America. The Florida golfer fought through an abdominal injury sustained in the semifinal round for the victory.

The Mile High Shootout was the fifth and final event of the 2010 LDA Tour, drawing a full field of competitors including past world champions, Hopper said. His next event will be the RE/MAX World Long Driving Championships the last weekend of October in Mesquite, Nev.

“Though I’m disappointed I know sometimes things like this will happen,” Hopper said. “But knowing I’m right there gives me belief sooner or later it will fall in my favor.”

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