Yance returns from World Deaf Golf Championships with gold medal

August 11, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Mike Yance came home from Sweden with a gold medal and a longing to compete for more.

Yance, a Kentucky School for the Deaf employee, is a member of the United States team that won the gold in the World Deaf Golf Championships in Sweden recently. The U.S. team won the gold by 41 strokes over England.

Yance has won the Kentucky deaf state championship several times, but it didn't take long for him to realize he was going to be facing some tough competition.

"I saw many different wonderful deaf golfers practicing on the range, and they were all going long distances," Yance said. "I had never seen so many good golfers. They bring the best deaf golfers together, and it is much more motivation and excitement."


He said it was a culture shock when he finally teed up for the tournament.

"On the first day on the first tee, there were many, many fans," Yance said. "There were people all over. I had never experienced anything like that before in my life. I really felt like a king."

Yance started off poorly - due largely to nerves, he said - and shot a 21-over-par 92 on the first day. Each day his score dropped as he became adjusted to the Drottningholms Golf Club course.

"Golf is different in Europe," Yance said. "They have a lot of sand traps that are really deep and the roughs are really rough. You go down there and you never find your ball. The wind was brutal."

He tied for 35th place

His final day's score, an 84, was the best of his four rounds. He finished in a tie for 35th place with a four-day score of 353.

Yance's gold medal is a thing of pride for him, and for KSD athletics director Paul Smiley.

"We at KSD are very proud that one of our employees has had such a wonderful success," Smiley said. "Mike is a wonderful person and we are very proud of him."

Yance was not alone on the trip. His wife, Tina, was his caddy. Yance said she was worn out by the time the tournament wrappd up and "she said she would never do that again."

After the U.S. team won, the Yances joined another couple and traveled to Scotland to play two of the most famous courses in golf: St. Andrews Links (home of the 2005 British Open) and Carnoustie Golf Links (2007 British Open).

Yance plans on trying to qualify for the 2006 world championships in Canada when the qualifier is held in Rochester, N.Y. next summer.

Yance said he really wants to qualify for the 2008 team, which will compete in Australia. The top 10 golfers qualify for the open competition, but Yance said he would settle for competing in the senior division.

Yance will help start a youth deaf golf camp next summer in Frederick, Md.

"Deaf golfers are getting much more involved," Yance said. "I think in the next five to 10 years, there will be many more deaf golfers competing."

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