"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/.

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This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

“This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

There was also one other similarity.

“Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

“It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”

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Sunday drama won't overshadow USGA's issues

By Randall MellJune 18, 2018, 1:30 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – It looked like a British Open.

It was playing like a U.S. Open.

Through two rounds, Shinnecock Hills was double trouble in the best kind of way.

It was a hybrid in the most appealing sense of golf course architecture’s ancient allure and its modern defenses.

Halfway through, the USGA was nailing the setup, with Dustin Johnson the only player under par in one of the toughest but fairest tests in recent U.S. Open memory.

This looked like it was going to be remembered as USGA CEO Mike Davis’ masterpiece, but even a Sunday to remember couldn’t trump a Saturday to forget.

Sunday’s drama - with the history Brooks Koepka made becoming the first player in three decades to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, with Tommy Fleetwood’s 63 equaling Johnny Miller’s final round record - could not restore faith being lost in the USGA’s ability to set up and manage this championship.

This U.S. Open ended with footnotes the size of headlines.

The issues arising Saturday with the USGA losing control of the course raised even more troubling questions about why this organization’s heavy hand can’t seem to avoid becoming as much a part of the story as the competition.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


The controversy that was ignited Saturday when Phil Mickelson intentionally incurred a two-shot penalty by making a putting stroke on a moving ball also raised questions about the organization’s ability to fairly administer its own rules.

It’s a shame, because Davis has some good ideas.

His reimagined vision of this championship as the “ultimate test” makes sense as a better and more complete event.

His ideas are designed to identify the game’s most complete player on America’s best courses better than any other major.

It’s just not working.

This year’s failure in the wake of the ’04 debacle at Shinnecock Hills is especially worrisome. Davis vowed it wouldn’t happen again. Somehow, some way, he let it happen again.

Maybe the old standards we’ve come to judge the U.S. Open upon are too high, impossible to meet with today’s more athletic player, high-tech coaching and space-age drivers, shafts and balls.

Nobody ever protected par better than the USGA, but maybe par can’t be properly protected anymore, without tricking up a course.

Because if USGA officials can’t make its exacting formula work at an architectural treasure like Shinnecock Hills, where they had it absolutely perfect for two days, you wonder if they can make it work at all.

The testament to how the USGA was nailing its formula wasn’t in what we heard the first two days. It was in what we weren’t hearing. Only one player was under par through Friday, but there wasn’t a complaint to be heard in the locker room or on the range.

They were wiping the smiles off players’ faces without infuriating them.

In that regard, the USGA was delivering a miracle.

The wonderful appeal Shinnecock Hills held as a U.S. Open/British Open hybrid at week’s start ended up being twisted into something else by week’s end. It stood as a symbol of the championship’s confusion over its proper identity.

Even with Sunday’s compelling storylines unfolding, players were still frustrated over setup.

Saturday was over the edge, with Davis admitting “there were parts of this, simply put, that were too tough.” He said winds were stronger than expected, but the winds weren’t that much different than were forecast.

So USGA officials softened the course for Sunday, with more overnight watering and more friendly hole locations.

That turned Shinnecock Hills into Jekyl and Hyde on the weekend.

Scoring told the story.

Rickie Fowler shot 84 on Saturday and 65 on Sunday.

Fleetwood shot 78 and 63.

They weren’t alone, even though the weather wasn’t as dramatically different as the scores would indicate.

This wasn’t about the weather.

It was about the course being manipulated in ways that frustrated players.

“They soaked the hell out of it,” Pat Perez said after tying for 36th. “They’ve got all the pins in the middle.

“It is supposed to gradually get to where it was Saturday afternoon. You don’t lose it on Saturday and then try to make up for it, soak the course and make it totally different.”

Brandt Snedeker was equally befuddled playing drastically different conditions in weather that wasn’t so drastically different.

“The thing that is unfortunate is that the guys that were playing the best golf this week took the brunt of it yesterday, when it should have been vice versa,” Snedeker said. “Some guys got robbed of a really good chance to win a golf tournament yesterday afternoon, which is not fair.”

There were other issues that continued to challenge faith in the USGA.

Despite later acknowledging it set up the course too tough in spots on Saturday, the USGA put players on the clock for slow play.

The Mickelson penalty also raised issues.

He got a two-shot penalty under Rule 14-5 (playing moving ball) when there was some outcry over whether he should have been penalized under Rule 1-2 (exerting influence), which would have opened the door to disqualification for a serious breach.

The USGA rigorously defended 14-5 (playing moving ball) as the proper call.

John Daly wasn’t disqualified for striking a moving ball in a similar instance at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 1999. He also got a two-shot penalty, but there was a difference in the situations that might have justified Mickelson’s disqualification.

Daly said he intentionally hit a moving ball out of frustration, as protest over the USGA’s unfair hole locations.

Mickelson said he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills to try prevent his ball from rolling off the green. He said he knew the rules and was intentionally breaking them to gain an advantage. He compared it to using the rules to get a better lie with a drop, but there’s a difference between using the rules to your advantage and breaking them to gain an advantage.

The difference in those motivations, as Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee pointed out, opened the interpretation of the violation as a serious breach worthy of disqualification.

The question of whether Mickelson’s manipulation of the rules was serious enough to invoke disqualification as a breach of etiquette under Rule 33-7 was dismissed by the USGA as inappropriate.

It should be noted here that the USGA and R&A should be applauded for its monumental overhaul of the Rules of Golf, a rules modernization going into effect next year. It’s a welcomed simplification of the rules that required an exhaustive review.

This week’s complications show the unrelenting challenges they continue to tackle.

We leave this U.S. Open with history being made, with Koepka joining Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange as just the third players since World War II to win the title in back-to-back years.

We also leave hoping the USGA can deliver four days of next year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach as free of controversy as it delivered the first two days at Shinnecock Hills, because this year’s championship felt half baked.

Will Gray contributed to this report.

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Brandel rips USGA: 'There's no obvious leadership'

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 1:29 am

The 2018 U.S. Open will certainly be remembered for Brooks Koepka's successful title defense.

But there's no doubt that it will also be remembered for Phil Mickelson's decision to hit a moving golf ball on Saturday, for the USGA's decision not to disqualify him, and for the governing body once again losing control of Shinnecock Hills over the weekend.

Speaking on "Live From the U.S. Open" on Sunday night, analyst Brandel Chamblee took the USGA and its leadership to task for more than just the inconsistent playing conditions this week.

His comments - edited and condensed for clarity - appear below:

"Something was amiss in a big, big way [at Shinnecock Hills]. I think the USGA has lost a lot of the trust of the golf world. They've done it for numerous reasons.

"On their watch, they missed COR – the rebound effect in drivers. They missed the rebound effect and the combination of the rebound effect [with] the ball. They missed it, on their watch. And now, the feeling is that they’re crying foul, even though it was on their watch. And so, essentially, the equipment companies got it done, by [the USGA’s] standards, legally.

"On their watch, there have been huge mistakes in major championships. … We well know this one (Shinnecock in 2018) – a colossal mistake all the way across the board. The golf course was bumpy the first day; they didn’t quite get that right. It was awful the third day. And today, in a different kind of way, it was far too easy.

"And then there’s penalties that they levy that make absolutely no sense, penalties that they don’t levy – not disqualifying Phil Mickelson yesterday. …

"There seems to be no obvious leadership, you know, to me. No obvious leadership heading in the right direction."

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Koepka reveals he injured his ribs last week

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:19 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – There was a time when Brooks Koepka didn’t even know if he was going to be able to play this week’s U.S. Open as he recovered from a wrist injury that had sidelined him for 3 ½ months.

He didn’t start hitting full shots until the Monday after the Masters, which he missed, and returned to the PGA Tour in late April at the Zurich Classic. His return to competitive form accelerated from there with a runner-up finish last month at the Forth Worth Invitational.

But if Sunday’s victory at Shinnecock Hills, where he became the first player to win back-to-back U.S. Opens since Curtis Strange in 1989, appeared to be an official return to full strength, it wasn’t exactly that seamless.


U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


Koepka, who closed with a 68 for a one-stroke victory over Tommy Fleetwood, revealed that he suffered a rib injury last week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

“My rib kind of came out last week. It bugged me a little bit,” he said. “Right when we got here, [Koepka’s trainer] worked on it, knew what it was. It was pretty sore, but I had no problems since then.”

In 2015, Koepka withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a similar rib injury.