The Open Division of the ROC City Rumble began under gloomy skies on Monday morning. With rain forecast for most of the day, the first wave of competitors spent their time trying to keep their hands dry.
By the time the afternoon group began, the rain had stopped and the breeze was blowing downwind for the competitors.
The big names had no issues advancing. Nine of the top 10 players in the world rankings advanced to the round of 32.
No. 9 Paul Howell was among those moving on, who made it to the final eight in the last event at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash before having a disappointing showing in the quarterfinal.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously the windy conditions were tough [in Atlantic City], but being a golfer, obviously
there’s there’s no excuse. I just hit it bad,” says Howell of his TV performance at the Boardwalk Bash.
“But, you know, going into tomorrow I can just try the same thing I did today and stay consistent. Stay within myself. I know I can hit big balls, but so can all of these guys, so, the game plan is just to hit it hard and see what happens.”
Among the hitters outside of the top-10 that advanced to Tuesday was Nick Kiefer. A semifinalist at the 2016 World Long Drive Championship, Kiefer has been plagued with a hand injury that’s kept him from being competitive since last year.
“I ended up breaking my hand from what my doctor said,” Kiefer said.” “I broke it in February  and I basically did charity and corporate events and then competed throughout 2018 season. By the Tennessee Big Shots last year, I couldn’t even hold onto the club and I ended up having surgery.”
Kiefer thought all was well after the surgery, and started getting ready for the first event of the 2019 season, the Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun in Arizona.
“I thought all was going well after I started hitting in December. When 2019 rolled around, I was doing great and was as fast as ever. I flew out to Phoenix in March, hit three golf balls on the range and tweaked it again. I went back to the doctor and he basically told me it was just a bunch of scar tissue and I blew through it. I’ve been hitting ever since and trying to get the strength back to where it was and now I feel great.”
Tuesday’s Round of 32 will get underway at 8 a.m. ET with the first pod of 16 hitters. The second group of 16 is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. ET. By days’ end eight quarterfinalists will advance to compete on Wednesday’s live telecast at 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.
Group 1 (8 a.m. ET): Justin James, Will Hogue, Maurice Allen, Ryan Reisbeck, Paul Howell, Jim Waldron, Kevin Shook, Joe Miller, Troy Teal, Scott Kalamar, Dan McIntosh, Jacob Golliday, Rob Tiettmeyer, Bobby Bradley, Ryan Gregnol and Jesse Pettersen.
Group 2 (9:45 a.m. ET): Ryan Steenberg, Kyle Berkshire, Tim Burke, Justin Moose, Jeff Gavin, Mark Costello, Martin Borgmeier, James Tait, Eddie Fernandes, Press LaBrie, Nick Kiefer, Jordan Brooks, Brady Torbitt, Mike Dobbyn, Mikey Jarrell and Patrick Raber.