DENVER, Colo. – The combination of high altitude and strong talent made it tough for Long Drive world records to stand a chance at the Mile High Showdown. The event took Golf Channel's primetime spot Tuesday night to showcase the longest hitting men and women in the world... and they did not disappoint. Emerging from the pack were Troy Mullins and Maurice Allen , who both won their first televised WLD event at the Mile High Showdown, with winning drives of 374 and 436 yards. The season's farthest flying event saw world records break and a new world No. 1 emerge after a grueling few days.
VIEWERSHIP: Last night's "Mile High Showdown" earned a .16 overnight rtg; highest overnight for World Long Drive event since '15 World Champ— Golf Channel PR (@GolfChannelPR) July 26, 2017
Mile High and Dry
Records are meant to be broken, right? How about back-to-back-to-back-to-back? That's what Chloe Garner, Sandra Carlborg, Mullins and Phillis Meti all did when they broke the women's World Long Drive record (in that order) within a few hours of each other. Garner started with a 400 yard bomb, only to be beaten by Carlborg's 401 two swings later. Mullins stepped up to the tee and blasted a drive 402 yards less than an hour later... but that record only stood until the semifinal match when Meti cranked one 406 yards! The men's Open Division also had a good showing with the two longest drives of the season – at 485 yards – from Ryan Reisbeck and Ryan Steenberg during their quarterfinal matches.
The women had some momentum going into the finals. Mullins met 2016 World Long Drive Champion Meti, only one match removed from Meti's record-setting performance. Both Mullins and Meti had knocked drives over 400 yards earlier in the day, but the pressure of the title on the line seemed to reign them in. Meti managed 3 of her 8 balls on the grid, but her longest drive at 363 wasn't enough to edge out Mullins' 374 yard penultimate drive. Along with the win, Mullins took home a cool $7,000 with her trophy and bragging rights.
“I’m still shocked, I can’t believe it,” Mullins said. “I kept my head down [on that last ball] and I didn’t even know if it made it in the grid. I’m really proud of myself… I’m doing this on my own, not sponsored. I come here with my two clubs and I’m doing it. And I think this is a great way to get people into the sport. This is how I got into golf, just coming out and having fun. I hope to stay in it for a long time.”
The men's finals was also one to watch. Allen had a chance to get revenge on 2017 Clash in the Canyon winner Reisbeck, who edged out Allen in the semifinal back in June.
Rain softened the grid and wind picked up towards the end of the day Tuesday. Allen's 436 yard winning drive this week was nearly 50 yards shorter than the drives other competitors were hitting earlier in the day, but nonetheless the ever-eccentric Allen got the win.
“This win means everything,” Allen said. “There are a lot of people who believed in me… all these people gave me an opportunity. And for a guy who was sleeping in his car five years ago because he wanted to be a Long Driver, it [doesn’t] get any sweeter than this.”
However, Reisbeck's runner-up not only came with a hefty $10,000 check, but he became the new world No. 1 after his strong play.
MILE HIGH SHOWDOWN RECAP:
GRID: Park Hill Golf Club, Denver, Colo.
LOCAL & REGIONAL QUALIFYING RESULTS: Four men qualified for the 2017 World Long Drive Championship on Saturday and Sunday through local and regional qualifying. Day 1 saw Brady Shupaka and Andrew Fernandes qualified with drives of 402 and 396. On day 2, balls flew a little bit farther for Landon Carbol and Richie Moore, who knocked their drives out to 424 and 453.
MILE HIGH SHOWDOWN: While much of the buzz going around the course was about the four 400+ yard drives in the women's division, the men's division was nearing the magical 500 number. Reisbeck and Steenberg tied for the longest ball in the quarterfinal matches with 485. All top seeds advanced to the semifinals, where Reisbeck and Steenberg went head-to-head. Reisbeck moved on to the finals after his 474 yard drive edged out Steenberg's 460. Allen's 465 was enough to knock out 2017 Bash for Cash champ Justin James' 445 yards to advance to the final. Reisbeck and Allen met in the finals, where Allen's 436 yard drive proved to be good enough for the win.
The women's semifinal match ups featured the four ladies in the 400 club. The matches of Garner vs. Mullins and Meti vs. Carlborg were not lacking in drama. Mullins' 398 yard drive narrowly topped Garner's 395.
It looked like an easy victory for Carlborg after she opened her set with a 393 yard beauty. Meti's longest drive of the match was still nearly 30 yards shorter than the Swede's. That was until Meti stepped up and hit the 406 yard world record drive on her seventh ball of the set.
In the finals, Mullins and Meti had a fierce battle, but Mullins came out on top with her 374 yard drive to capture her first tour win.
One of the most memorable moments of the night off the tee belonged to James, who shared some insight into his spirit animal with Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz:
You can see the full results from the Mile High Showdown here.
UPDATED WORLD LONG DRIVE RANKINGS: There was some shuffling around in the top-5 following the Denver event. Reisbeck claimed the top spot, dropping Will Hogue to No. 2. James held on to his No. 3 ranking, while Allen moved up on spot to No. 4 and Tim Burke moved down a spot to No. 5.
LOOKING AHEAD: Only two qualifying events remain for men to earn their spot into the Open Division in the 2017 World Long Drive Championship, including the Catawba Classic (Aug. 4-6, Hickory, N.C.) and the “Last Chance Qualifier” (Aug. 31-Sept. 1). The 2017 World Long Drive Championship will feature a 96-man field competing for a $270,000 purse. The Women’s Division will feature a field of 32 competitors vying for a purse of $40,000. The event will return to WinStar World Casino & Resort (Thackerville, Okla.) for a third consecutive year, following a multi-year extension as the host site. For the full 2017 World Long Drive Association schedule, visit https://www.worldlongdrive.com/schedule/.
WLDA will host two international events, Golf Digest Japan Long Drive Championship (July 29-30) and American Golf Championship (UK, Aug. 4). The tour returns to the States Aug. 4-6 for the Catawba Classic in Hickory, NC, the hometown and home course of world No. 6 Trent Scruggs.
2017 WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP: August 31 – September 6 at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Live coverage on Golf Channel Tuesday, September 5 and Wednesday, September 6.
The Rolex wearin', diamond ring wearin', kiss stealin', wheelin' dealin', limousine ridin', jet flyin' son of a gun! - @MauriceAllen360 pic.twitter.com/QAzJaDU7p1 — Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) July 25, 2017