Two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat was plenty fast in his World Speedgolf Championships debut.
He had a little more trouble with his clubs, though.
Lagat, one of the world’s greatest middle distance runners, improved nine strokes from his first round Saturday to his second round Sunday, playing 18 holes each day.
He finished in 24th and last place.
The more seasoned Nick Willis, the 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist for New Zealand, placed 13th.
“I think I got one par today,” Lagat said, excitedly, Sunday. “That got me motivated.”
Speedgolfinternational.com defines speedgolf:
Speedgolf is pretty much just what it sounds like; golf played at a very fast pace. Competitors play 9 or 18 holes and run between shots. Scores are calculated by adding the time taken to complete the round and the total strokes taken. For instance, if a competitor shoots a golf score of 80 and it takes 60 minutes to complete their round, their Speedgolf score (SGS) would be 140 (80 + 60).
Competitors generally carry 5-6 clubs in a small bag, wear athletic golf attire, put on their running shoes and they are ready to go.
The only real differences from traditional golf are the flagstick is left in when putting and lost balls are dropped anywhere on the line of flight of the previous shot with a one-shot penalty.
Lagat totaled 219 strokes and was actually much slower than the winner, Rob Hogan, who has run five miles in 30:12, according to LetsRun.com. Hogan ran the course in 39:31 while shooting a 77 on Saturday. In contrast, Lagat’s better day, Sunday took 47:38 with 110 strokes.
Lagat said his first round Saturday was his “first time all the way through” the 18 holes at Bandon Dunes in Oregon.
“Of course I was nervous,” said Lagat, adding he lost at least one golf ball and was confused at which green to hit at one point. “When you don’t know how to do something, and you’re in front of people who know how to do it. … Even when I’m teeing off like this, I’m thinking to my head, somebody knows that I’m doing something wrong.
“Once I (teed) off, I’m like, ‘Nobody’s going to care now. I’m going to go.'”
It sounds like Lagat’s golfing days aren’t over.
“Nick (Willis) used the word, ‘I’m hooked,'” Lagat said. “And I think I’m hooked.”