ALEXIS BELTON, KYLE BERKSHIRE WIN TENNESSEE BIG SHOTS BENEFITING NISWONGER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Belton Claims Second Career Tour Event Win, Moves to No. 3 in the World; World No. 1 Berkshire Wins Second Consecutive Event with 409-Yard Drive
World Long Drive Season Culminates in Three Weeks at 44th World Long Drive Championship, Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 3-4 in Primetime on GOLF Channel
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Aug. 12, 2019) – After waiting patiently for the evening’s most extraordinary moment, the lively Northeast Tennessee crowd was rewarded on the final ball of the competition – as sunlight was fading – when world No. 1 ranked Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.) blasted a 409-yard drive to win the Open Division of the Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital. Joining Berkshire in the winner’s circle was Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.), who won her second career World Long Drive tour event despite arriving in Tennessee just five hours prior to the start of the preliminary round of the Women’s Division competition.
Kyle Berkshire (left) and Alexis Belton
For Belton, the win marked a moment of redemption, putting an end to a win-less streak dating back to last April, during which she finished runner-up on three different occasions. The victory helped catapult Belton to No. 3 in the world rankings, despite a series of obstacles she was forced to overcome on Monday. Flight delays and a cancelation forced Belton to drive from Charlotte, and as a result kept her from arriving at the competition venue until 5 a.m. ET. As a result, her golf clubs never made it, and she was compelled to use equipment that wasn’t tailored to her swing.
“I got a second wind and had a lot of adrenaline running,” Belton said. “I think I just had a better day [than Meti]. This is definitely a confidence booster. I can’t even think, I’m just happy.”
For Berkshire, Monday night’s victory validated what many in the sport have believed for some time, that the 22-year-old has separated himself from his peers as the best hitter in the Open Division. It was the 11th consecutive time that Berkshire had advanced to the televised portion of a World Long Drive tour event, and it marked his second victory in three weeks, after winning the ROC City Rumble in Rochester, N.Y. on July 24.
“I don’t compete against a player, I compete against myself,” Berkshire said. “I think that helps because even if someone does put up a big number, or if you’re facing world champions, I was only worried about my own shots. I knew if I did that, I would win.”
EVENT RAISES NEARLY $7,000 FOR NISWONGER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL: The event also incorporated Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’® “Play Yellow” campaign, with balls coming to rest in the designated “Play Yellow Zones” (300-320 yards: Women’s Division; 380-400 yards: Open Division) eliciting donations to Niswonger Children’s Hospital (ex: a 386-yard drive would equate to a $386 donation). In total, 19 drives contributed to nearly $7,000 of donations. First introduced by World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus in March, “Play Yellow” was established as a way for the golf community to provide support and fundraising efforts for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®, of which Niswonger Children’s Hospital is a member.
The Tennessee Big Shots concludes the summer stretch of the World Long Drive season, which will lead into the 44th World Long Drive Championship, airing Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 3-4 in primetime under the lights, live on GOLF Channel. The season-culminating event (WinStar World Casino and Resort, Thackerville, Okla.) will feature the coveted world championship title belt, which will be on the line for the winner of the Open, Women’s and Masters (age 45+) Divisions. Presenting golf at its farthest, loudest, most-athletic and adrenaline-filled extreme, World Long Drive dates back to 1976, and brings together golf’s longest hitters from around the world.
OPEN DIVISION FINAL:
(1) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.) def. (5) Tim Burke (Orlando, Fla.)
WOMEN’S DIVISION FINAL:
(4) Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.) def. (1) Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand)
OPEN DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:
(1) Kyle Berkshire def. (5) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.)
(5) Tim Burke def. (13) Ryan Reisbeck (Layton, Utah)
WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:
(1) Phillis Meti def. (3) Chloe Garner (Somerset West, South Africa)
(4) Alexis Belton def. (6) Heather Lynn Manfredda (St. Augustine, Fla.)
OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCHES:
(1) Kyle Berkshire def. (7) Justin Moose (Columbia, S.C.)
(4) Justin James def. (17) James Tait (London, England)
(13) Ryan Reisbeck def. (8) Martin Borgmeier (Munich, Germany)
(5) Tim Burke def. (10) Jeff Gavin (Hamilton, Ont., Canada)
2019 WORLD LONG DRIVE – TOUR EVENT SCHEDULE:
Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun
Phillis Meti, Tim Burke
Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson
Fort Jackson, S.C.
Chloe Garner, Ryan Steenberg, Mikael Dubois
Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash
Atlantic City, N.J.
Phillis Meti, Tim Burke
ROC City Rumble
Phillis Meti, Kyle Berkshire
Tennessee Big Shots benefitting Niswonger Children’s Hospital
Alexis Belton, Kyle Berkshire
Aug. 30-Sept 4
44th World Long Drive Championship
ABOUT WORLD LONG DRIVE ASSOCIATION
Originating in 1976, the World Long Drive Association is golf at its farthest, loudest, most athletic and adrenaline-filled extreme. World Long Drive was named a finalist at the 2018 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards in the League of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport and Live Coverage of a Breakthrough Sport categories. The broader sports industry also has taken notice, including ESPN proclaiming that long drive has “recently started to enter the mainstream of golf;” Men’s Journal noting “with the sport’s ascendant profile and ever-growing prestige,” fans should “buckle up for more high-octane action;” Golf Digest saying the World Long Drive is “on the upswing, gaining traction;” and Golf.com claiming it as “an eye-opening experience”. Sanctioned WLD events are open to amateur and professional golfers. The 2019 WLDA season consists of events across the United States and around the world, culminating with the World Long Drive Championship, Aug. 30-Sept. 4, on the Texas / Oklahoma border, where competitors will convene under the lights for the world title live on GOLF Channel. World Long Drive events can be seen on television in more than 60 countries, including GOLF Channel, NBC Sports Network and NBC in the United States, and Sky Sports Golf in Europe. In 2018, 8.3 million unique viewers watched at least some portion of World Long Drive events (live and replay) across NBC Sports Group, +23% year-over-year, and the most-viewed season of World Long Drive on-record according to data released by The Nielsen Company.
Golf Channel Communications