April 24, 2018 - 7:58 pm
Updated April 24, 2018 - 8:39 pm
MESQUITE — Ryan Steenberg, the world’s eighth-ranked long driver and a semifinalist of the Clash in the Canyon, said the field of 47 was the strongest he’s seen.
“If you weren’t hitting it 450 yards, you didn’t have a shot (to qualify for the final eight),” he said.
Surviving the final eight that was televised live on the Golf Channel was former top-ranked long driver Will Hogue, who defeated reigning Volvik World Long Drive champion Justin James 413 yards to 391 in Tuesday’s final at the Mesquite Regional Sports and Event Complex. Weather conditions slightly reined in distances from Monday’s qualifying sessions.
Hogue, 32, defeated defending Clash in the Canyon champion Ryan Reisbeck 426-392 in one semifinal, while James outhit Steenberg 425-423 in the other.
“This is very special, because anyone who has been around long drive for any amount of time knows Mesquite is a magical place and is the home of long drive,” said Hogue, who is from Memphis, Tennessee. “To come out here and win is a real treat.”
In the women’s division, mini-tour golfer Alexis Belton, 24, from Rustin, Louisiana, defeated Las Vegas resident Alex Phillips 332-319 in the final. It was Belton’s second appearance in a major long drive competition.
“I just stayed calm and present in the moment and tried to enjoy every part of it, win or lose,” Belton said. “My thought was to just swing it and do what I had been doing all day. I knew I had it in me. Either it was going to (happen) or I would just come back and try again in the next event. It was really awesome to hit a big one.”
Las Vegan qualifies
In qualifying Sunday, Las Vegas resident Mike Dobbyn secured a spot in the Volvik World Finals from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 at Winstar Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma, but he tore his left patellar tendon while celebrating. He will undergo surgery and hopes to be ready for the finals.
Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @LVGolfInsider.