WEST BOUNTIFUL, Utah – With scorching temperatures and relatively no wind, the World Long Drive Association teed it up outside of Salt Lake City for the Rockwell Blast where competitors took advantage of the ideal conditions. It all came down to the championship match that saw hometown host and then-world No. 3 Ryan Reisbeck (Layton, Utah) faceoff with Glenn Wilson, Jr. (Houston, Texas). Reisbeck was looking for his second win this season, but Wilson pounded a 439 yard bomb in the championship match to beat Reisbeck’s 415 yards and claim his maiden WLDA win.
Here’s a recap of the 2017 Rockwell Blast:
GRID: Lakeside Golf Course, West Bountiful, Utah
LOCAL & REGIONAL QUALIFYING RESULTS: Four men qualified for the 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Championship on Thursday and Friday through local and regional qualifying. Thursday saw Matthew Nolan (Monrovia, Calif.) and Daniel Beckman (Fresno, Calif.) make it through with drives of 405 yards and 400 yards. On Friday, Bobby Bradley (Wellington, Fla.) and Anthony Thomas (Vancouver, Wash.) earned their spots with drives of 418 yards and 413 yards.
ROCKWELL BLAST: On Saturday, 32 men competed for their chance to take home the Rockwell Blast title. Bluff City Shootout champion Justin James and Jason Eslinger led groups A and B going into the double elimination round.
Former World Long Drive champion Mike Dobbyn entered the event without an exemption into the 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Championship, but his 404 and 409 yard drives in the double elimination portion earned him a ticket to the big dance as the highest finisher not previously exempt.
The field then narrowed to eight men: Reisbeck, Mark Costello, Eslinger and Troy Teal on one side of the bracket; and Trent Scruggs, Kyle Berkshire, Jim Waldron and Wilson on the other.
The longest drive of the day belonged to the eventual winner, Wilson, who managed 453 yards against Berkshire in the semifinals to secure his place in the championship match.
Reisbeck— the 2013 and 2015 event champion—faced off against Wilson in the championship match. Wilson edged out the hometown favorite with a 439 yard drive to edge out Reisbeck’s 415 yards. Although he didn’t get the win, Reisbeck’s runner-up finish moved him up to No. 2 in the player rankings.
Wilson’s win was a long time coming, but he credits changes to his mental approach for his new found success.
“My mental preparation has changed drastically this year compared to others,” Wilson said. “Before, I used to walk on the tee ‘hoping’ I would hit a good ball and be in the mix, but today’s metal state is ‘knowing’ I’m going to hit a big ball and the other guys are going to have to chase me. This along with trusting my swing is how I prepare round to round.”
His new approach to competition and the recent changes to the tour made the win special.
“Having my first win come at a time when Long Drive is on the rise means more than just ‘a win’,” Wilson said. “Since Golf Channel has taken over the sport of Long Drive, each event feels bigger than the one before.”
Click here to watch Golf Channel’s Morning Drive segment about WLD’s most recent winner!
UPDATED WORLD LONG DRIVE RANKINGS: Following the Rockwell Blast, Reisbeck moved out of a tie for third and into solo second. Wilson also moved up a spot the rankings; he now sits at 12th.
PURSE & PAYOUTS: 1st – USD $10,000, 2nd – USD $5,000, 3rd & 4th – USD $2,500, 5th – 8th – USD $1,250
LOOKING AHEAD: Up next, the WLDA heads to the Great White North for the Bash for Cash in Ontario, Canada.
Thirty-two players will tee it up at Grassy Brook Golf Course on Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15 with two groups of 16 competing in a round robin format where they will accrue points. The top 8 in each group will advance to a Double Elimination format. From there, the top 8 will advance to the Match Play quarterfinals round.
On Saturday, July 15, 32 players will compete for world ranking points and the $25,000 purse.
In the field: Ryan Reisbeck, Maurice Allen, Justin James, Tommy Hug, Paul Howell, Landon Gentry, Jason Eslinger, Mitch Grassing, Jeff Gavin, Ben Tuaone, Brady Torbitt, Kyle Berkshire, Mitch Dobbyn, Spencer McDaniel, Scott Kalamar, Curtis Urniezius, Daniel Lambert, Stephen Kios, Travis Britt, Anthony Thomas, Bryan Kelly, Brent Champion, Ryan Dougan, Connor Powers, Danny Moorehead, Evan Ogule, Jim Devine, Carl Wolter, Ryan Gearheart, EJ McDonnell, Donovan Forges and Zach Carver.
2017 VOLVIK WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP: August 31 – September 6 at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Live coverage on Golf Channel Tuesday, September 5 and Wednesday, September 6.