Surprises reigned supreme at the Volvik World Long Drive Championship on Saturday, as the preliminary round of the Open Division wrapped up with multiple top competitors headed home.
“You have bad days and today was just bad timing to have a bad day,” James said. “Obviously it’s very disappointing, but some of these things are out of your control. I’ve always tried to put my best foot forward and let things fall where they may. This is my third year in the sport, and I’m still learning quite a bit. Learning what type of hitter I am and continuing to grow and to improve. And also learning how to deal with expectations and just kind of how I tick. And how to perform the best I can.”
Notably, each of the remaining top 10 (besides James and Howell) are among the 36 advancing to Sunday’s second round.
The day also saw the emergence of both unanticipated and potentially unfamiliar names.
2007 Volvik World Long Drive champion Mike Dobbyn cruised through his pod, advancing to Sunday despite it being his first taste of competition since severely injuring his knee at the “Clash in the Canyon” in April.
The list of competitors representing the international reach of the World Long Drive circuit moving on to Sunday include: Chris Andrews (Australia), James Tait (Scotland), Matt Nicolle (England), Teemu Pitkanen (Finland) and Emil Rosberg (Sweden).
Perhaps the biggest surprise – aside from James’ early exit – comes from three of the 36 competitors remaining who are currently positioned outside of the top-100 in the rankings: Joshua Koch (109), Richard Meikle (115), and Paul Ostby (119).
As the Open Division dwindles to 16 competitors by day’s end on Sunday, one might expect the surprises are far from over. Competition gets underway at 9 a.m. ET Sunday morning.
Group A (9 a.m. ET): Will Hogue, Mitch Grassing, Jeff Gavin, Jim Waldron, Ben Tuaone, Anthony Thomas, Mike Dobbyn, Chris Andrews, James Tait.
Group B (10:30 a.m. ET): Maurice Allen, Trent Scruggs, Justin Moose, Troy Teal, Dan McIntosh, Bryan Kelly, Matt Nicolle, Teemu Pitkanen, Joshua Koch.
Group C (12:30 p.m.): Ryan Reisbeck, Tim Burke, Landon Gentry, Stephen Kois, Josh Cassaday, Patrick Hopper, Jacob Golliday, Zach Sizemore, Richard Meikle.
Group D (2 p.m.): Ryan Steenberg, Kyle Berkshire, Kevin Shook, Mark Costello, Spencer McDaniel, Mitch Dobbyn, Emil Rosberg, Ian Griscom, Paul Ostby.