Clash in the Canyon Recap
36 competitors teed it up for the preliminary rounds of the World Long Drive Tour’s Clash in the Canyon hoping to make it into the Final 8 and advance to the live telecast on Golf Channel. The Top 8 qualifiers were Jim Waldron, Justin James, Ryan Steenberg, Nick Kiefer, Ryan Reisbeck, Kyle Berkshire, Justin Moose, and Will Hogue.
In quarterfinal #1, Justin James needed two drives to outdistance Jim Waldron with a drive of 403 yards. In quarterfinal #2 Ryan Steenberg and Justin Moose both hit drives of 408 yards and had to wait for an official measurement to determine the winner or if the six-inch rule would be in effect forcing a playoff. In the end Steenberg’s drive measured one foot farther than Moose’s to advance to the Semifinal. In the third quarterfinal Will Hogue easily outdistanced Kyle Berkshire 415 to 388, while Ryan Reisbeck made quick work of Nick Kiefer 424 to 396 in the last quarterfinal to also advance to the semifinal.
The semifinals featured four of the top 8 ranked long drivers in the world as Ryan Steenberg (#8) faced top ranked Justin James while Will Hogue (#6) took on Ryan Reisbeck (#3). In semifinal #1 Steenberg posted a drive of 423 yards, but James required only two balls to out distance him with a drive of 425 yards. Meanwhile in semifinal #2 Will Hogue filled the grid and his longest effort measured 426 yards. On this night the Big Deal couldn’t match Hogue to advance to the finals
In the Open Division finals Hogue hit fewer balls in the grid, but posted a drive of 413 yards that had a ball speed of 220 mph. On this night the reigning World Champion fell 20 yards short and could not catch the fireman who is heating up as we approach the Summer.
Last season Chloe Garner, Sandra Carlborg, Troy Mullins, and Phillis Meti had some classic matchups and established themselves as the four longest women in golf history. Out at the Mile High Showdown they in succession became the first four woman to join the 400 yard club with Phillis Meti establishing a new world record of 406 yards before losing to Mullins in the final. At the World Long Drive Championship Sandra Carlborg won her 5th title by defeating former champion Heather Manfreeda in the final. Alexis Belton also showed she was a top tier competitor at her first event advancing to the Semifinal. Melton has replaced Chloe Garner, at least for this season, as Garner is recovering from a shoulder injury.
Out at Mesquite for the Clash in the Canyon Phillis Meti and Sandra Carlborg were defeated in the Quarterfinals by Troy Mullins and Heather Manfreeda respectively. That meant that Troy Mullins would face Alex Phillips in Semifinal #1 and Troy’s longest ball was 318 yards. Competing just about an hour outside of her hometown, Alex Phillips powered her third drive 324 yards to advance to the finals.
Meanwhile in the second Semi-Final former champion Heather Manfreeda filled the grid and recorded her longest drive of 316 yards. Alexis Belton then hit her first drive 334 yards to move into the final.
The final was set and it featured a matchup of young guns who have aspirations of playing on the LPGA Tour. Alex Phillips hit first and posted a drive of 319 yards. Belton then stepped up to the tee and responded with a drive of 332 yards to win her first World Long Drive Tour event in only her second event. She has quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Despite using her playing driver Belton effortlessly produces 114 mph of clubhead speed and ball speeds of 170 mph or more. She consistently drives her ball over 330 yards. Along with Troy Mullins she possesses one of the most fluid and powerful swings in the history of women’s golf. I would compare their swing to Mickey Wright’s swing for their grace and elegance.
Did I mention that the depth of talent in the women’s division has expanded in the past twelve months since Golf Channel televised the women’s division at last year’s Clash In the Canyon?