World Long Drive embraced the intersection of competition and patriotism on Tuesday evening, with the Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson from the Army installation outside of Columbia, S.C. The evening began with the Army Golden Knights aerial parachute demonstration team landing on the Fort Jackson Golf Club hitting grid, and culminated in victory for Mikael Dubois (Military Division; League City, Texas), Chloe Garner (Women’s Division; Somerset West, South Africa), and Ryan Steenberg (Open Division; Rochester, N.Y.). The second Tour event of the World Long Drive season also marked the first time that a division of long drive hitters represented by military service members competed live on television.
Dubois – a former Air Force pilot and current member of the Arizona Air Force National Guard – connected for a 326-yard drive on his eighth and final ball in the Military Division final, outlasting Tyler Jeffers (Sparta, Ill.), a fellow Air Force service member. The victory for Dubois comes just three months ahead of his next scheduled deployment, as he’s due to head to Afghanistan in August. The win at Fort Jackson earned an exemption into the Open Division at the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September, which it appears he’ll be forced to miss due to his service requirements.
“The crowd, I mean the soldiers were making it electric,” said Dubois. “This is easily the most golf balls I’ve hit in years. I think maybe the exhaustion helped calm the nerves. I couldn’t really overswing at that point. I can’t even describe how awesome this feels.”
In the Women’s Division, Garner outlasted defending world champion and No. 1 ranked competitor in the world Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand), courtesy of the South African’s 304-yard drive in the final. The victory marks the first time that Garner was able to find the winner’s circle since June 2017, when she won the Clash in the Canyon in Nevada.
“You can see the tears coming out of my eyes,” said Garner. “It’s just what I live for, to compete and win. And to win again is exactly what I need going forward with my career.”
Steenberg took down Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.) in the Open Division final with the longest ball of the evening – a 393-yard boom – that clinched the first-ever televised World Long Drive victory for the “Beast from the Northeast”.
“The energy of this place and everything it encompasses,” said Steenberg, “it was amazing to be out here with the men and women of our armed forces and represent them and represent the sport of long drive.”
The Military Division competitors advanced to Fort Jackson through a dozen preliminary qualifying events at U.S. Army bases around the country, which were open to all active, reserve and retired Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy service members.
OPEN DIVISION FINAL MATCH:
(4) Ryan Steenberg (Rochester, N.Y.) def. (5) Kyle Berkshire
WOMEN’S DIVISION FINAL MATCH:
(3) Chloe Garner (Somerset West, South Africa) def. (1) Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand)
MILITARY DIVISION FINAL MATCH:
Mikael Dubois (Air Force; League City, Texas) def. Tyler Jeffers (Air Force; Sparta, Ill.)
OPEN DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:
(4) Ryan Steenberg def. (3) Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.)
(5) Kyle Berkshire def. (67) Jordan Brooks (Tamworth, England)
WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:
(3) Chloe Garner vs. (5) Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.)
(1) Phillis Meti vs. (2) Sandra Carlborg (Alingsas, Sweden)
MILITARY DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:
Tyler Jeffers def. Ryan Hixson (Coast Guard; Miland, Ind.)
Mikael Dubois def. Jake Taylor (Marines; Winston-Salem, N.C.)
OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCHES:
(67) Jordan Brooks def. (46) Josh Koch (Orlando, Fla.).
(5) Kyle Berkshire def. (14) Steve Kois (Wheaton, Ill.)
(18) Jim Waldron (Scottsdale, Ariz.) vs. (3) Will Hogue
(4) Ryan Steenberg def. (7) Tim Burke (Orlando, Fla.)
The Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson marked the second of six televised World Long Drive Tour events in 2019, culminating with the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September. The next televised event, the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash, will air live on GOLF Channel, Wednesday, June 5.