"Clash in the Canyon" World Long Drive Event Airing Tuesday, June 6 in Primetime on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 1, 2017, 1:45 pm

Long Drive Returning to Familiar Venue in Partnership with Golf Mesquite Nevada; Will Feature Women’s Division Being Showcased Live for First Time

The World Long Drive Association (WLDA) will stage the first of three live television events in 2017 with the ‘Clash in the Canyon,” airing Tuesday, June 6 in primetime on Golf Channel at 8 p.m. ET. The new event is in partnership with Golf Mesquite Nevada and will be staged June 3-6 at the Mesquite Regional Sports and Event Complex, culminating in the television portion that will feature the four competitors having advanced in the Women’s Division, along with the eight remaining competitors in the Open (Men’s) Division. The event will mark the first time ever that the Women’s Division will air live on television.

A familiar setting in the Long Drive community, Mesquite previously hosted the World Long Drive Championship and a number of qualifying events dating back to 1997, including the World Championship having been staged at the Mesquite Regional Sports and Event Complex from 2008-2012.

The Clash in the Canyon will feature a 32-man field competing in the Open Division based on the World Long Drive rankings, which will include nine of the top-10 in the current rankings, along with a Women’s Division field of 16 competitors. The Open Division will compete for a $50,000 purse, with a first place prize of $20,000, while the Women’s Division will be vying for a $7,000 first place prize with a $15,000 overall purse. Ben Tuanone (Wells Fargo Advisory Endless Summer Invitational), Tim Burke (East Coast Classic) and Landon Gentry (WinStar Midwest Slam) have won the first three sanctioned Open Division events to-date on the 2017 WLDA season heading into the Clash in the Canyon. Winners in each Division (or the highest finisher not previously qualified) will earn a spot in the field at the 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Championship later this year.

OPEN DIVISION FIELD (# Signifies Current World Ranking): Will Hogue (1), Tim Burke (2), Trent Scruggs (3), Tommy Hug (5), Justin James (T-6), Ryan Reisbeck (T-6), Paul Howell (8), Landon Gentry (9), Maurice Allen (T-10), Ryan Steenberg (T-10), Justin Moose (12), Jeremy Easterly (T-13), Jeff Flagg (T-13), Jason Eslinger (T-15), Kevin Shook (T-15), Jeff Crittenden (17), Glenn Wilson Jr. (19), Troy Teal (21), Jeff Gavin (22), Mike Dobbyn (24), Brady Torbitt (25), Patrick Hopper (T-26), Mitch Dobbyn (T-26), Steve Monroe (T-28), Ryan Winther (T-28), Dan McIntosh (31), Ben Tuaone (33), Kody Zurek (35), Jim Waldron (T-36), Stan Ramsey (40), Spencer McDaniel (T-41), Rob Tiettmeyer (43).

WOMEN’S DIVISION FIELD: Phillis Meti, Chloe Garner, Sandra Carlborg, Heather Manfredda (LeMaster), Lee Brandon, Alex Phillips, Kaycee Kennedy, Troy Mullins, Lisa Vlooswyk, Michelle Sheptak, Debbie Peever, Serena McGannon, Cory Ann Pond, Megan Thornes, Corey Phillips, Haley Vandenberg.

FORMAT: The Open Division field of 32 will be divided into two groups of 16, competing in a round-robin format where they will accrue points, with the top eight in each group advancing to a 16-man, double-elimination bracket. From there, the top eight will advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals bracket which will play out during the telecast. The Women’s Division field of 16 also will utilize a points format that will decide the top eight advancing to the quarterfinals, and winners of the quarterfinal matches will advance to take part in the semifinals, airing live during the telecast.

COVERAGE: Live coverage of the Clash in the Canyon will air in primetime from 8-10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 6, with Golf Centralpreviewing and recapping the event (7-8 p.m. ET, 10-10:30 p.m. ET). In addition, Golf Channel will air an encore telecast of the 2016 World Long Drive Championship, featuring the Round of 16 (3-5 p.m. ET) and Finals (5-7 p.m. ET) leading into the live Golf Central at 7 p.m. ET.

The production centering around live coverage of the competition will utilize six dedicated cameras, capturing all angles from the hitting platform and the landing grid, including a SuperMo camera as well as a crane-positioned camera that will track the ball in flight once it leaves the competitor’s clubface. The telecast also will feature a custom graphics package suited to the anomalous swing data typically generated by Long Drive competitors, tracking club speed, ball speed and apex in real-time via Trackman. Top Tracer technology also will provide viewers with a sense of ball flight, tracking drives from the moment of impact.

Morning Drive and Golf Central will prepare viewers for the Clash in the Canyon through interviews and dedicated segments with competitors on the driving range in Mesquite, in addition to airing player profiles and features leading up to the competition.

BROADCAST TEAM: Golf Channel’s Grant Boone will conduct play-by-play, Art Sellinger – long-drive pioneer and two-time Long Drive champion – will provide analysis, and Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz will provide reports from the teeing platform and conduct interviews with competitors in the field.

QUALIFYING ROUNDS & RECOGNIZING THE PIONEERS OF LONG DRIVE: As part of the event, the WLDA will stage local and regional qualifying for the Open Division on Saturday-Sunday, June 3-4 (*On-site Registration Open to Public*), which will award four exemptions into the 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Championship (Aug. 31-Sept. 6) field later this year. Also taking place on Sunday, June 4, will be a Masters Division (ages 45+) competition, with a field of 16 that includes several individuals who have greatly contributed to the success and sustainability of the sport over the past few decades. The format will feature a round-robin points system, with the top-four moving on to the head-to-head semifinals and finals. The Field: Don Beck, Kevin Blenkhorn, Vincent Ciurluini, Jeff Crittenden, Eddie Fernandes, Mark Frampton, Jeff Gavin, Chris Hall, Daniel Lambert, David Mobley, Brian Pavlet, Tom Peppard, Bobby Peterson, Lance Reader, Richard Smith and Scott Smith.               

DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Fans will have an opportunity to stay up-to-date on all of the action surrounding the Clash in the Canyon by following @GolfChannel and @WorldLongDrive on social media. On-site activations will include: a series of Facebook Live videos leading up to the competition that will utilize a drone to offer unique perspective on the venue; Early-round coverage on Facebook Live June 3-5 and; an oversized video board adjacent to the grid showcasing social media interaction from fans in attendance and those following along at home.

The telecast also will integrate social media-generated content during live coverage, and will feature Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin, weighing in on trending themes and conversation as the event unfolds.

In an effort to help viewers get to know some of the personalities behind the top competitors in the Long Drive community, Golf Channel Digital has created a series of player profiles, featuring Sandra Carlborg, Will Hogue, Tim Burke and Trent Scruggs.

The 2017 Open Division schedule consists of qualifying events spanning from March through August, with competitors from each event advancing to the Volvik World Long Drive Championship, which will feature a 96-man field competing for a $270,000 purse. The Women’s Division will feature a field of 32 competitors vying for a purse of $40,000. The event will return to WinStar World Casino & Resort (Thackerville, Okla.) for a third consecutive year, following a multi-year extension as the host site. For the full 2017 World Long Drive Association schedule, visit https://www.worldlongdrive.com/schedule/.

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

Those plans changed after a few weeks.

“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Park kept right on attacking.

The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

Leave that to the players chasing her.

Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

Does anything make her nervous?

''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.