Photo credit: Anthony Thomas

Anthony Thomas of the United States has won the 2018 IGANZ New Zealand Long Drive Open defeating an international field of competitors that included hitters from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the United States.

Competition was fierce all day long, but as match play reached the Semifinals four competitors had outdistanced the field. In the first Semifinal Tyler Barton Golf of the United States was matched up against Chris Andrews of New Zealand who was competing in his first Long Drive championship. In the match American hit a drive of 316 meter drive to end Andrew’s unlikely run to winning his National Open in his initial attempt at the sport. Meanwhile, in the second Semifinal Anthony Thomas was matched up against long hitting Alex Robertson of the UK. In a very close match Thomas emerged victorious 339 meters to 335 meters to advance to the final, but not before Robertson unleashed a mammoth 360 meter drive that trickled out of bounds.

The stage was then set for the Final which featured the two Americans. It was another hard fought battle with each player getting excited after exceptional drives. The match was so tight that no one knew for sure who had won until the yardages were announced that we knew who the victor was. In the end, Thomas defeated Barton by three meters to claim a prize package that included a check for $5,000, a golden ticket to the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in Oklahoma, valuable world ranking points, a Championship Ring, and a Championship trophy designed by Darren Wise.

Thomas said of the victory, “That was a wild ride. It was a fantastic event overall for the sponsors to the grid workers, director to kitchen staff! Thanks to everyone that supported and encouraged one way or another. I love y’all to the World Long Drive Championship and back.”

It has been a whirlwind two weeks for Barton who last week at the East Coast Classic of the World Long Drive Tour in Columbia, SC he was interviewed by the BC Epilepsy Society for their I Am A Voice Epilepsy awareness campaign. While in South Carolina he also received valuable coaching five-time World Long Drive Champion Mike Gorton. In Auckland he used the valuable tips to make a run at the New Zealand Open title. The event also helped generate awareness for Purple Day on March 26th to support Epilepsy awareness in association with Epilepsy New Zealand.

The beautiful Omaha Beach Golf Club was the host for the two-day event and the fun and supportive staff made it an ideal venue for the championship.

The event was organized by International Golf Associates of New Zealand (IGANZ) and Luxury Golf Tours sponsored the outstanding prize packages.

The inaugural event was a huge weekend for the sport of Long Drive as both a New Zealand National Champion and a New Zealand Open Champion were crowned on consecutive days. Congratulations to the winners Alan Stroud and Anthony Thomas respectively for punching their “golden tickets” to the the Volvik World Long Drive Championship later this year in Oklahoma.