The 2018 Long Drivers European Tour season opener showed France what it’s been missing. Hotel Golf Château de Chaillly played host to the tour for the first event in the country since 2014. And though there was a local name in the running heading into the final rounds, it was Robin Horvath of Germany claiming the first victory of the season.
Sunday began with a quarterfinal lineup that could not disappoint. Frenchman Maxime Bourzicot took on the top-seeded Bryan Roberts (WAL) while reigning LDET Champion Matt Nicolle (ENG) faced Martin Borgmeier (GER). Second-seeded Dewald Lubbe (SAF) versus Aleksi Kivini (FIN), and an all-German showdown between “The Hungarian Hulk,” Robin Horvath from Stuttgart, and Timo Petrasch, the “German Bomber” from Munich, filled the other side of the bracket.
Roberts (356/OB/372) bested Bourzicot (348/367/362) to earn a trip to the semifinals against Matt Nicolle (361/356), who ousted Borgmeier (357/OB). On the other side, Kivini fell to Lubbe 351/351/355 to 363/348/347, setting up a face-off against the winner of the the Horvath/Petrasch matchup. Horvath ousted Petrasch, 365/346/375 to 333/372/348, to continue his march to the finals.
The exciting championship match was shaped by Matt Nicolle’s 385/373 to 376/OB victory over Roberts, and Horvath topping Lubbe by the slimmest of margins, OB/375/371 to 375/372/OB.
In the final round, Horvath started strong with a 388-yard blast in the first set, a little too close to Nicolle’s 381-yard effort for comfort. But Horvath secured the France Championship with the longest ball of the day, a 399-yard bomb, over Nicolle’s 372-yard finisher, and vaulted into the no.1 spot in the LDET. (Lubbe took the 3rd place position on the podium after a 386/367 to 335/360 win over Roberts.)
“I’m speechless right now. Can’t believe it!” Hovarth posted on his Instagram page after the event. (He has, as of this writing, yet to comment further, so I’m guessing the emotion has yet to wear off, and understandably so.)
“Congratulations to @hungarian_hulk for pipping me in the final, impressive stuff going deep with a 399!” reads an April 8 post on Nicolle’s Instagram page. ” I will be back fighting harder than ever to regain that top stop!” he continues. Nicolle is now ranked no.2 on tour.
Hovarth is set to continue his hot start at Steenhoven Golf Club in Belgium later this month for the Belgium Championship, April 20th-21st. And he’s surely looking forward to competing in his own country later this year at the Germany Championship at Müncherner Golf Club in Munich, hometown of “The German Bomber” Timo Petrasch. Here’s to hoping for exciting rematch between the two that July weekend.
The 2018 LDET season is expected to one of the best yet, and the players came ready to live up to the hype. The bar has been set high for the remainder of the season but with an exciting mix of some of the best and up-and-coming players in Long Drive, new, marquee events and, of course, the long ball, it’s safe to say the best is yet to come.