Despite Mother Nature’s best attempt at stealing the show, Sandra Carlborg (Alingsas, Sweden) and Mark Costello (Kulpmont, Pa.) were the ones hoisting a trophy on Tuesday evening, winning the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash. The inaugural event – in partnership with the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) and staged at Atlantic City Country Club – presented some of the more challenging conditions seen in recent memory at a World Long Drive competition. Weather aside, the width of the grid measured around 45 yards in total, a significantly narrower landing area than the typical 55-65 yard wide setup utilized throughout the season.
“When you get adverse conditions and a very narrow grid, with their swing speeds and very low-lofted equipment you’re just not going to get many golf balls in play,” said Art Sellinger, World Long Drive analyst for Golf Channel and two-time World Long Drive champion. “It psyches you out mentally.”
The Women’s Division final offered a rematch of last month’s Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun final, as Carlborg once again faced 2016 World Long Drive champion Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand). Both members of the 400-yard drive club (setting the mark in 2017), Carlborg blasted her sixth ball of the set 283 yards, good enough to outmatch the 273-yard drive of Meti given the conditions.
“It was hard for a lot of players today to find the grid,” said Carlborg. “This is actually my 20th [World Long Drive] victory. I love this life, and everything about it.”
In the Open (Men’s) Division, Costello inched by Ryan Steenberg (Rochester, N.Y) – literally. Both competitors hit drives of 344 yards in their set – with Costello’s coming on his eighth and final ball – forcing a playoff where Costello took advantage of his good fortune to claim the victory with a 350-yard drive in the playoff that Steenberg wasn’t able to match.
“I certainly got my money’s worth,” said Costello. “I know I have the swing to be able to compete with anyone out here. [It was] just a matter of time I thought until I was going to get a win.”
The Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash marked the fourth official event of the 2018 World Long Drive season, as Justin Moose claimed the East Coast Classic in Columbia, South Carolina in March, while Alexis Belton and Will Hogue won the Clash in the Canyon in Mesquite, Nevada in April. Meti and Hogue won the Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun in Maricopa, Arizona last month.
“We ended up having a magical finish, just not the names that we may have thought going in,” said Jonathan Coachman, World Long Drive play-by-play host. “That’s got to be – for those three minutes – one of the greatest finishes that World Long Drive has ever had. And then on the women’s side, it’s incredible how consistently great Sandra and Phillis are. For the time being, they’re dominant and continue to be at a level above their peers.”
OPEN DIVISION FINAL
(36) Mark Costello def. (8) Ryan Steenberg
WOMEN’S DIVISION FINAL
Sandra Carlborg def. Phillis Meti
OPEN DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES
(8) Ryan Steenberg def. (1) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.)
(36) Mark Costello def. (25) Jeff Gavin (Stoney Creek, Ont., Canada)
WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES
Phillis Meti def. Mary Driscol (Glendale Ariz.)
Sandra Carlborg def. Troy Mullins (Los Angeles, Calif.)
OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCH RESULTS
(25) Jeff Gavin def. (7) Paul Howell (Wilson, N.C.)
(8) Ryan Steenberg def. (13) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.)
(36) Mark Costello def. (4) Maurice Allen (Pine Hills, Fla.)
(1) Justin James def. (42) Wes Patterson (St Louis, Mo.)