The 2019 World Long Drive season got off to a roaring start on Tuesday, with Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand) and Tim Burke (Orlando, Fla.) winning the Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun in spectacular fashion amidst the dust-coated Arizona desert outside of Phoenix. It is the second consecutive year that the Ak-Chin Indian Community has hosted a World Long Drive event.
Meti – the three-time (and defending) Volvik World Long Drive champion – successfully backed up her 2018 Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun victory in style, to the tune of a 413-yard drive in the finals against Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.). The high mark for the World No. 1 competitor set a new record for the longest drive ever recorded in the Women’s Division at a World Long Drive competition, eclipsing Meti’s own previous record of 406 yards (2017 Mile High Showdown).
“It hasn’t really even sunk in,” said Meti. “I didn’t even think that was possible. That’s probably the fastest I’ve ever swung it to be honest. Hopefully I can stay on this path and keep riding the rollercoaster for the rest of the season.”
Not to be outdone, the two-time Volvik World Long Drive champion Burke manufactured a 474-yard drive that tight-roped the grid boundary on his eighth and ultimate ball in the finals against Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.). Burke’s previous long was a 453-yard drive, which would not have been enough to surpass Berkshire’s 466-yard ball. The victory marks the first time that Burke has won a televised World Long Drive competition since his 2015 world championship title.
“It feels good to start off the year,” said Burke. “My strategy today was just to pepper that left side [of the grid]. I knew one of [my drives] was going to take off. I saw it all week with other players that were beating me. So that’s what I did, and the strategy worked out.”
The Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun marked the first of six televised World Long Drive Tour events in 2019, culminating with the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September. The next event will take place in three weeks in South Carolina, the Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson, airing live on GOLF Channel Tuesday, May 7 at 5 p.m. ET. In addition to the Open and Women’s Divisions, the event also will include a Military Division consisting of active, reserve and retired service members having qualified at one of 12 events at Army Installations around the United States.
OPEN DIVISION FINAL
(9) Tim Burke def. (5) Kyle Berkshire
WOMEN’S DIVISION FINAL
(1) Phillis Meti def. (5) Alexis Belton
OPEN DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES
Kyle Berkshire def. (3) Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.)
Tim Burke def. (6) Justin Moose (Columbia, S.C.)
WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES
Alexis Belton def. (2) Sandra Carlborg (Alingsas, Sweden)
Phillis Meti def. (4) Troy Mullins (Los Angeles, Calif.)
OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCH RESULTS
Tim Burke def. (1) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Justin Moose def. (19) Eddie Fernandes (Winter Garden, Fla.)
Kyle Berkshire def. (20) Kevin Shook (Bradenton, Fla.)
Will Hogue def. (2) Maurice Allen (Pine Hills, Fla.)