Tuesday afternoon’s Round of 16 at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash quickly turned from “hit it as far as you can” to “just make sure you eclipse the 300-yard threshold” after conditions left the competitors facing high winds directly into their face.
The 300-yard mark is one that normally never comes into play for the Open Division hitters, but it became a popular landing area as hitters jockeyed to make it through to the Quarterfinals as part of Wednesday’s event conclusion airing on GOLF Channel at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
“I think I hit the hardest ball of my life and it went 307 [yards],” said World No. 5 Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.). “I don’t know if that’s discouraging or what but it was definitely intense and very windy. It was very difficult.”
Hogue advanced on his eighth and final ball in the ultimate Round of 16 set. Had he not connected, it would have caused a four-man playoff for the last of the eight spots up for grabs.
Also advancing to the Quarterfinals was Martin Borgmeier (Germany), who will make his first appearance in a televised World Long Drive Tour event on Wednesday.
“I have never, ever played in [conditions like these] before, and I got [into the Quarterfinals] with a 301[yard drive],” said Borgmeier. “I think tomorrow we’ll see the same conditions so it’s going to be more about ball flight.”
Not only is this Borgmeier’s first TV appearance, but it’s also his first full season competing in the United States on the World Long Drive tour.
“I just got into Long Drive in 2018 when I became the European champion. Since [competing on] the World Long Drive tour, I knew it would happen,” Borgmeier says on making a televised Quarterfinals. “Because I have the speed, but I had to get used to playing the points format because back home we don’t do that. I’m just absolutely excited to compete tomorrow.”
Among the quarterfinalists are four of the top-5 in the World Long Drive rankings, in Justin James (No. 1), Ryan Steenberg (No. 2), Kyle Berkshire (No. 5) and Hogue.
Wednesday’s weather forecast has more high winds in store, along with some potential inclement weather conditions that will likely lead to more drives in the 300-yard range. The quarterfinal matches will be as follows – world ranking in parentheses:
(7) Tim Burke (Orlando, Fla.) vs. (26) Eddie Fernandes (Winter Garden, Fla.)
(5) Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.) vs. (24) Martin Borgmeier (Germany)
(2) Ryan Steenberg (Rochester, N.Y.) vs. (12) Paul Howell (Wilson, N.C.)
(4) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.) vs. (1) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.)