Hard-hitting Richard is on the way to becoming a pro

PUBLISHED: 15:40 19 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:14 28 May 2010

HARD HITTER: Richard Allen takes aim during the RE/MAX European Championships, in Ireland

HARD HITTER: Richard Allen takes aim during the RE/MAX European Championships, in Ireland

A WISBECH man is on the verge of winning a life-changing sum of money and becoming a professional golfer after winning a European long drive championships. Next month, Richard Allen, 22, will be travelling to the United States and gunning for a first priz

A WISBECH man is on the verge of winning a life-changing sum of money and becoming a professional golfer after winning a European long drive championships.

Next month, Richard Allen, 22, will be travelling to the United States and gunning for a first prize of a cool $125,000 at the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships after winning the European title, in Ireland.

His drive of 346 metres, or 378 yards, saw off a field of 30 of the biggest hitters in Europe and catapulted him in to the world finals, which will be held in Mesquite, Nevada, at the end of October.

Both professional and amateur players can play in the competition but their equipment must conform to strict guidelines and the ball must land within a 45 metre-wide grid.

There were several surprise eliminations during the course of the competition held earlier this month but Richard, who began his challenge when he won the national title earlier this year, held his nerve.

Richard, who works for golf equipment manufacturers Titleist, in St Ives, said: "It was very nerve-wracking in the early stages and I was shaky in the early rounds, but I got better and better as the competition went on and it was great to shoot my best drive in the final.

"As soon as the ball left the club face I knew it was good and I went chasing after the ball!"

Richard, who plays off a handicap of four, only got involved with long driving four months ago after visiting a golf show. He explains: "I went to the London Golf Show where I had a go on a launch monitor and I obliterated a guy who had been doing it for years so I was taken to one side by the organisers and invited to take part in the championships."

And now, Richard has his eyes set on the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships, one of the most prestigious tournaments of its kind, and where a huge purse of $500,000 is up for grabs in four categories including senior and women's competitions.

But it is the open division's top prize of $125,000 that Richard has his sights set on. He said: "I am actually quite confident that I can do well and I am aiming for an improvement in my driving distance.

"I have been consistently driving 370 to 380 yards this year and I have recorded 400 yards. If I can do that again I will be right up there with a chance."

Richard will be taking on 128 other qualifiers, the majority of whom are based in the United States, and going for the big prize. He said: "It would be fantastic to win the money - it would be truly life-changing."

However, winning the tournament would also lose Richard his amateur status. "He said: "I would then have to turn professional and then I would consider going out to the Unites States to compete there.

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