The World Long Drive Association heads to the capital of South Carolina to kick off its 2018 schedule, with the East Coast Classic, Thursday-Saturday, March 15-17. On a grid known as a “hitter’s heaven,” the Tour event in West Columbia will play host to four of the current top-five in the World Long Drive rankings.
TOUR EVENT STORYLINES & DEFENDING CHAMPION: On Saturday, March 17, Two-time World champion and current fourth-ranked competitor in the world Tim Burke will defend his 2017 title, alongside 2017 World Long Drive champion and current World No. 1 Justin James.
During last year’s event, Burke faced defending champion Trent Scruggs (2016 East Coast Classic winner) in the final and utilized a 389 yard drive to win.
New to 2018 and in lieu of a waiting list, the WLDA will host a Tour Qualifier for 16 competitors on Friday to have a chance to compete in Saturday’s Tour event. Much like a “Monday qualifier” on golf’s professional tours, it will be staged as an OPEN qualifier, with 16 competing for four spots in the Tour event field. The format will be five sets, with point totals accrued and the top-four advancing to the Tour Event. The Tour event then will proceed with four “pods” of nine competitors with point totals determining those who advance.
2018 VOLVIK WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING: Competitors registering for their chance at qualifying for the 2018 Volvik World Long Drive Championship will have an opportunity to showcase their skills on Thursday-Friday, March 15-16. Four preliminary qualifying rounds (formerly known as local qualifying) will take place on each day, with four competitors from each advancing to a 16-man final qualifier (formerly regional qualifying) in the afternoon. The top-three competitors from the final qualifier each day (using a points system) will advance to the 2018 Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September, for a total of six spots up for grabs. Interested competitors can guarantee themselves a spot in one of the preliminary qualifiers by pre-registering online here.
TOUR EVENT FIELD OF 32 (IN ORDER OF WORLD RANKING): Justin James, Maurice Allen, Tim Burke, Trent Scruggs, Mitch Grassing, Landon Gentry, Glenn Wilson Jr., Jason Eslinger, Nick Kiefer, Kyle Berkshire, Steve Monroe, Justin Moose, Jeremy Easterly, Brady Torbitt, Jeff Gavin, Patrick Hopper, Stephen Kois, Jim Waldron, Jeff Crittenden, Mitch Dobbyn, Josh Cassaday, Scott Kalamar, Spencer McDaniel, Mark Costello, Daniel Lambert, Mike Dobbyn, Curtis Urniezius, Press LaBrie, Bryan Kelly, Eddie Fernandes, Wes Patterson, Anthony Thomas.
TOUR QUALIFIER FIELD OF 16 (COMPETING FOR 4 SPOTS IN TOUR EVENT): Troy Teal, Kyle Blakely, Kody Zurek, Danny Moorehead, Travis Britt, Jacob Golliday, Benjamin Raymond, Mitch McDowell, Tyler Barton, Jim Devine, Roy Studley, Jake Taylor, Jay Milinichik, Luke Moore, Tyler Adrian, Cody Wheeler.
TOUR EVENT PURSE & WORLD RANKING POINTS: Total Purse: $30,000; 1st – $12,000; 2nd – $6,000; 3rd & 4th – $3,000; 5th – 8th – $1,500. World Long Drive Ranking Points: 1st – 800 points; 2nd – 600 points; 3rd & 4th – 400 points; 5th – 8th – 200 points; 9th – 16th – 100 points; 17th – 36th – 50 points.
CURRENT TOP-10 IN WORLD LONG DRIVE RANKINGS: No. 1 – Justin James; No. 2 – Ryan Reisbeck; No. 3 – Maurice Allen; No. 4 – Tim Burke; No. 5 – Trent Scruggs; No. 6 – Will Hogue; No. 7 – Mitch Grassing; No. 8 – Ryan Steenberg; No. 9 – Paul Howell; No. 10 – Landon Gentry.
PAST CHAMPIONS: Tim Burke, Trent Scruggs, Will Hogue, Rob Tiettmeyer, Jeremy Easterly.
GRID: Par Tee Driving Range, 3209 Charleston Highway, West Columbia, SC 29172