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Golf’s biggest hitters ready to smash it at Cattails

Joe Avento • Aug 9, 2019 at 12:46 AM

KINGSPORT — The big hitters are coming back to town.

A year after hosting an ultra successful World Long Drive event, Cattails at MeadowView Golf Course will again be the site of the Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital. Preliminary rounds are set for Saturday and Sunday with the televised quarterfinals, semifinals and finals being held Monday.

Monday’s action will be on Golf Channel for the second year in a row. The telecast runs from 6-8 p.m.

It’s the fifth and final stop on the World Long Drive tour, setting the stage for next month’s World Finals.

THE FIELD

The Open Division features Kyle Berkshire, who recently moved into the No. 1 spot in the world rankings. Berkshire finished second here last year to Justin James. James won the event with a drive of 396 yards in the finals.

Defending world champion Maurice Allen and two-time world champion Tim Burke will also compete.

Top-ranked Phillis Meti, a three-time world champion, leads a women’s field that will also include former ETSU golfer Chloe Garner, who has won on the tour and is a two-time world runner-up.

NO QUIET PLEASE

You won’t see any of those “quiet” signs at this golf event. The competitors like it loud and rowdy when they’re hitting. Music blares from speakers and golfers raise their arms, trying to encourage the crowd to make noise. It’s unlike any other golf event, and to prove it, noise-making thunder sticks will be handed out to make sure the atmosphere gets loud.

BY THE NUMBERS

An average golfer has club head speed of 70-95 mph. The top tour pros average more than 120. Long drive guys can get up to 150 mph. It all adds up to a lot of distance. Don’t be surprised, if the conditions are right, for the winning drive Monday night to travel more than 400 yards. Will Hogue hit one 404 last year in the quarterfinals.

By the time the TV cameras come on, only the best will be competing, having worked their way through a weekend of qualifying and preliminary rounds.

PLAY YELLOW

During the televised portion of the event, Niswonger Children’s Hospital will earn some extra cash based on how the long drivers perform.

Two “Play Yellow” zones — between 380 and 400 yards for the men and 300-320 for the women — will be marked on the grid. Each time a competitor has a drive come to rest in those zones, a dollar donation equal to the number of yards will be made.

The “Play Yellow” campaign was established by Jack Nicklaus 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.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Open Division preliminaries: 8 a.m-4 p.m.

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

Open Division round of 32: 8-11:15 a.m.

Open Division Round of 16: 12:30-2 p.m.

Women’s preliminaries: 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

MONDAY’S SCHEDULE

Monday’s telecast (6-8 p.m.)

Women’s semifinals and finals

Open Division quarterfinals, semifinals and finals

NEXT STOP

The 44th World Long Drive Championship will be held Sept. 3-4 and will also be on Golf Channel.

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