The field is set for tonight’s Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun World Long Drive Association (WLDA) event, airing tonight in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on Golf Channel outside of Phoenix, Ariz. Eight men and four women will convene within the Ak-Chin Indian Community adjacent to the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle in Maricopa, Ariz., as they look to claim victory at the third stop of the 2018 WLDA season.
Competitors headlining the field after advancing through preliminary rounds of the event include defending Volvik World Long Drive champion (and No. 1 competitor in the World Long Drive rankings), Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.), along with Will Hogue (Collierville, Tenn.), winner of last month’s Clash in the Canyon,. The Women’s Division will feature five-time (and defending) World champion Sandra Carlborg (Alingsas, Sweden) and two-time World champion Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand).
OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCHES (Seeded by World Long Drive Ranking)
(1) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.) vs. (23) Eddie Fernandes (Winter Garden, Fla.)
(9) Paul Howell (Wilson, N.C.) vs. (13) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.)
(6) Trent Scruggs (Hickory, N.C.) vs. (16) Nick Kiefer (Chicago, Ill.)
(4) Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.) vs. (20) Steve Monroe (Clearwater, Fla.)
WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES
Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand) vs. Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.)
Sandra Carlborg (Alingsas, Sweden) vs. Troy Mullins (Los Angeles, Calif.)
FORMAT: The eight men advanced from Monday’s preliminary rounds that featured a 36-man field and will compete within a single-elimination match play bracket during tonight’s live telecast. The four women advancing from this morning’s preliminary rounds (18-person field) also will utilize a single elimination match play bracket this evening to crown a champion.
COVERAGE: Live coverage of the Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun will air in primetime on Golf Channel from 8-10 p.m. ET tonight, with Golf Central previewing the event from 7-8 p.m. ET. An encore telecast also is scheduled to air on Golf Channel immediately following the event’s live conclusion, from 10 p.m.-Midnight ET. Fans also can stream the event live using the Golf Channel Mobile App, or on GolfChannel.com.
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 two craned-positioned cameras that will track the ball in flight once it leaves the competitor’s clubface. New to 2018, the telecast will utilize an overlaid graphic line on the grid, the “DXL Big Drive to Beat,” (similar to the “1st & 10 line” made popular in football) displaying the longest drive during a given match to signify the driving distance an opposing competitor will need to surpass to take the lead. The live production additionally 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. Trackman technology also will provide viewers with a sense of ball flight, tracing the arc of each drive from the moment of impact.
BROADCAST TEAM: A new voice to World Long Drive, veteran sports broadcaster Jonathan Coachman will conduct play-by-play at each of the five WLDA televised events on Golf Channel in 2018. Art Sellinger – World Long Drive pioneer and two-time World champion – will provide analysis, and Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz will offer reports from the teeing platform and conduct interviews with competitors in the field.
DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Fans can stay up-to-date on all of the action surrounding the Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun by following @GolfChannel and @WorldLongDrive on social media. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin is on-site contributing to the social conversation as the event unfolds, and, the live telecast will integrate social media-generated content during using the hashtag, #WorldLongDrive.
In addition to the latest video and highlights from on-site in Arizona, WorldLongDrive.com will feature real-time scoring. Golf Channel Digital also will feature content from the Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun leading up to and immediately following the live telecast.
2018 WORLD LONG DRIVE ASSOCIATION SCHEDULE:
DATE EVENT LOCATION
March 15-17 East Coast Classic West Columbia, S.C.
April 21-24 Clash in the Canyon (*Golf Channel*) Mesquite, Nev.
May 11-15 Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun (*Golf Channel*) Maricopa, Ariz.
June 4-5 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash (*Golf Channel*) Atlantic City, N.J.
June 21-23 Bluff City Shootout Memphis, Tenn.
July 6-8 Bash For Cash Port Robinson, Ont., Canada
August 2-4 WinStar Midwest Slam Thackerville, Okla.
August 12-13 Tennessee Big Shots benefitting Niswonger Children’s Hospital (*Golf Channel*) Kingsport, Tenn.
September 1-5 Volvik World Long Drive Championship (*Golf Channel*) Thackerville, Okla.
The Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun is the third official event of the 2018 World Long Drive season, as Justin Moose claimed the East Coast Classic in Columbia, South Carolina in March, while Will Hogue and Alexis Belton won the Clash in the Canyon last month.
Showcasing the truly global nature of World Long Drive, several events will be staged in 2018 through officially sanctioned WLDA international partners, including stops in Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Additionally, an all-encompassing international qualifier will be staged (late summer) featuring a minimum of four exemptions into the Open Division of the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September.
ABOUT WORLD LONG DRIVE ASSOCIATION
The World Long Drive Association is an organization that brings together golf’s longest hitters from around the globe. Emerging as one of golf’s most popular grass roots competitions – a finalist at the 2018 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards in the League of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport and Live Coverage of a Breakthrough Sport categories – sanctioned Long Drive events are open to amateur and professional golfers. With an Open Division, Women’s Division and Masters Division (Ages 45+), the sport appeals to golfers of all ages. The 2018 WLDA season consists of events across the United States and around the world, culminating with the Volvik World Long Drive Championship, Sept. 1-5, from WinStar World Casino & Resort on the Oklahoma / Texas border, where competitors will convene under the lights for the world title on Golf Channel. In 2017, World Long Drive coverage on Golf Channel featured three televised events, and across all telecasts (live and replay) airing across Golf Channel and NBC, 6.4 million unique viewers watched at least some portion of World Long Drive events, +295% vs. 2016, and the most-viewed season of World Long Drive on record (2013-2017, according to data released by The Nielsen Company).
ABOUT AK-CHIN INDIAN COMMUNITY
The Ak-Chin Indian Community is nestled into the Santa Cruz Valley of Southern Arizona. The Community lies 35 miles south of Phoenix in the northwestern part of Pinal County. Enterprises that make up the Ak-Chin Indian Community destination include Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, Ultra Star Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle and the Troon Golf-managed Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club is ranked as one of the Top 100 courses in the country by Golfweek and Golf Magazine. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Resort is undergoing a multimillion transformation and expansion project including a new hotel tower, casino floor expansion and parking garage. Ak-Chin is an O’odham word translated to mean “mouth of the wash” or “place where the wash loses itself in the sand or ground.” Ak-Chin has an enrollment of more than 1,056 tribal members and a land base of just over 22,000 acres. For more information, visit www.ak-chin.nsn.us