Once again, Par Tee Golf Center in South Carolina lived up to its “Hitter’s Heaven” nickname.
All four men who qualified for the 2017 World Long Drive Championship in West Columbia did so with winning drives in excess of 400 yards. Each day saw nearly 200 entries, and those men had great driving conditions as qualifiers hit into a down breeze.
On Day 1, 36-year-old Spencer McDaniel smacked it 422 yards to grab the first exemption of the weekend. Relative newcomer Scott Kalamar, a former single- A baseball player for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, grabbed the second exemption up for grabs to WinStar World Casino & Resort in September. This is just his second year competing in World Long Drive events.
Day 2 of local qualifying was dominated by familiar names to the sport of World Long Drive. Ryan Reisbeck will now be competing in the World Long Drive Championship for a seventh consecutive year, And Landon Gentry lived up to his ‘Pounds It’ nickname and took home the final exemption by crushing the longest ball of the weekend – 456 yards.
Sunday (Day 3) was the first tour stop of the WLDA season, the East Coast Classic, which brought out 9 of the top-10 in the Official World Long Drive Rankings. A total purse of $25,000 with $10,000 going to first place was on the line, and a spot into the World Long Drive Championship to the highest finisher not previously qualified.
In the 32-player-field, it came down to two of the sport’s best. The 5th-ranked player in the world, and two-time World Long Drive Champion Tim Burke up against the 4th-ranked player in the world, and the defending East Coast Classic champion, Trent Scruggs. Scruggs was trying to become the first back-to-back champion in East Coast Classic history. His best drive in the finals was 377 yards. That was not enough as Burke hit one 12 yards farther, coming in at 389 yards to win the event.
The next tour stop is the WinStar Midwest Slam on May 20 in Thackerville, Okla., the home grid of the 2017 World Long Drive Championship.
2017 WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP EXEMPTIONS AWARDED FROM QUALIFYING: Spencer McDaniel, Scott Kalamar, Landon Gentry, Ryan Reisbeck.
2017 WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP EXEMPTION AWARDED FROM EAST COAST CLASSIC: Kyle Blakely – Highest non-exempt finisher.
LONGEST DRIVE OF THE WEEKED: Landon Gentry – 456. Honorable mention: Ryan Reisbeck – 454.
WLDA NOTES: Tim Burke climbs to World No. 2 following his East Coast Classic victory. Kyle Blakely earns 2017 World Long Drive Championship invite as highest non-exempt finisher in the East Coast Classic. 32 spots in the 2017 World Long Drive Championship field of 96 will come from local qualifying. Did You Know: Spencer McDaniel’s nickname is ‘Smackpappy’.
Here are the final results from West Columbia, South Carolina and the East Coast Classic.
April 23, 2017
Tim Burke defeats Trent Scruggs to win 2017 East Coast Classic.
April 22, 2017
Day 2 World Long Drive Championship Qualifiers:
April 21, 2017
Day 1 World Long Drive Championship Qualifiers: