The preliminary round of the Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital is in the books and the field put on a great show.
The morning wave had to deal with the moisture and dew on the ground and very little wind, but that didn’t have any effect on guys like world No. 1 ranked Kyle Berkshire, who advanced with the longest drive (394 yards) of the morning wave.
The afternoon groups saw drier conditions and a slight helping wind. With that, the numbers went up and last month’s ROC City Rumble runner-up Martin Borgmeier set the tone with a clean sweep, winning each of his four respective sets.
“I enjoy hitting on the tee box so much,” said Borgmeier. “I’m just grateful to be here because I mean, a few years back all these guys were my idols. They still are, but hitting with them on the same tee box is just amazing. Beating them is even better.”
Borgmeier won his sets with drives of 405, 410, 395, and 409. He’s coming off of two TV appearances and knows that he’s still getting the hang of things.
“It’s still my first season. I’m just trying to enjoy everything, and the rest is going to happen by itself,” said Borgmeier. “Obviously, I was doing well in Rochester, and it’s funny because I did a few equipment changes after that runner up finish, which is unusual because I did so well there. I tried a different shaft and I did even better with it in practice, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to work in competition. To me, that’s mind blowing. Why would you change something that worked fine? I was a bit worried before my first set, but I gave it a try and committed 100% to it and yeah, smashed it 400 plus.”
After Borgmeier passed the 400-yard mark, the rest of the field took chase, and when the dust settled, Ryan Steenberg was at the top of the mountain with a 427-yard bomb to claim the longest ball of the day.
“When everything matches up like that and you hit it in the middle of the face, it’s game over,” said Steenberg of his blast.
Steenberg, who won earlier this season at the Exchange for Service: Fort Jackson, is coming off a disappointing outing in his hometown of Rochester, but he was more than happy with the success of the event.
“It was great. We smashed it,” said Steenberg of the ROC City Rumble. “You know, Rochester is still talking about it and I’m very confident that World Long Drive will be in Rochester for years to come. The venue is great, and it has the bones of something very special for the sport. And, like I said on TV, I was I prepared for either outcome and I got to do the next best thing, which I love to do, play host.”
Both Borgmeier and Steenberg know that they’re chasing the guy at the top of the world rankings right now in Berkshire, who is fresh off of his ROC City Rumble win, but both also know that one ball can make all the difference in the world.
The Round of 32 in the Open Division gets underway at 8am ET on Sunday morning. By day’s end, eight men will advance to take part in Monday’s live telecast (6pm ET) on Golf Channel.