Benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital, Event Adopting Children’s Miracle Network’s “Play Yellow” Campaign, with Donations Tied to Driving Distance
Event Precedes Season-Culminating World Long Drive Championship, Tuesday-Wednesday, Sept. 3-4, Live in Primetime Under the Lights on GOLF Channel
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Aug. 12, 2019) – World Long Drive stages its fifth tour event of the season with the Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital, airing live at 6 p.m. ET this evening on GOLF Channel and on Sky Sports Golf. Featuring eight men and four women, the competition will present the final opportunity for the longest hitters in the world of golf to earn momentum leading into the season-culminating World Long Drive Championship in three weeks.
The Open (men’s) Division quarterfinalists will include six of the top-10 ranked hitters in the world: No. 1 Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.), No. 4 Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.), No. 5 Tim Burke (Orlando, Fla.), No. 7 Justin Moose (Columbia, S.C.), No. 8 Martin Borgmeier (Munich, Germany) and No. 10 Jeff Gavin (Hamilton, Ont., Canada). The Women’s Division is led by defending (and three-time) world champion Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand), the current No. 1 hitter in the women’s rankings and winner of three of the first four tour events in 2019. Meti will be joined by No. 3 Chloe Garner (Somerset West, South Africa), No. 4 Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.) and No. 6 Heather Lynne Manfredda (St. Augustine, Fla.) during tonight’s live telecast.
WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:
(1) Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand) vs. (3) Chloe Garner (Somerset West, South Africa)
(4) Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.) vs. (6) Heather Lynn Manfredda (St. Augustine, Fla.)
OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCHES:
(1) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.) vs. (7) Justin Moose (Columbia, S.C.)
(4) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.) vs. (17) James Tait (London, England)
(8) Martin Borgmeier (Munich, Germany) vs. (13) Ryan Reisbeck (Layton, Utah)
(5) Tim Burke (Orlando, Fla.) vs. (10) Jeff Gavin (Hamilton, Ont., Canada)
EVENT TO INCORPORATE “PLAY YELLOW” CAMPAIGN: In support of Niswonger Children’s Hospital – which is the only children’s hospital in the Appalachian Highlands region – the Tennessee Big Shots will adopt the “Play Yellow” campaign, with unique integrations being incorporated into the live telecast. 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.
A “Play Yellow Zone” will feature designated areas in the competition grid that will be painted yellow (380-400 yards: Open Division; 300-320 yards: Women’s Division), with a cumulative donation being presented to Niswonger Children’s Hospital for each drive coming to rest within those zones (ex: a 386-yard drive would equate to a $386 donation) in the name of the campaign. Other planned activations include Niswonger patient interaction on the hitting platform, along with yellow “thunder sticks” for those in attendance at the event.
The Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital 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.
COVERAGE & BROADCAST TEAM: World Long Drive events airing on GOLF Channel utilize six dedicated cameras, capturing all angles from the hitting platform and the landing grid, including a SuperMo camera as well as two crane cameras that track the ball in flight once it leaves the hitter’s clubface. Telecasts also feature a custom graphics package suited to the exorbitant swing data typically generated by hitters, tracking club speed, ball speed and apex in real-time via Trackman. Trackman technology also provides viewers with a sense of ball flight, tracing the arc of each drive from the moment of impact.
Veteran sports broadcaster Jonathan Coachman will call play-by-play and be joined by Art Sellinger – World Long Drive pioneer and two-time world champion (1986. ’91), who will provide analysis. GOLF Channel’s Jerry Foltz will serve as a reporter, offering insight from the teeing platform and conducting interviews with hitters taking part in the competition.
DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Fans can stay connected to the action surrounding World Long Drive by following @WorldLongDrive and @GOLFChannel on social media. GOLF Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin also will be on-site contributing to the social conversation, and the live telecast will integrate social media-generated content via the hashtag, #WorldLongDrive. In addition to the latest video and highlights from on-site, WorldLongDrive.com will feature expanded editorial coverage and real-time scoring for the duration of the event. GOLF Channel Digital also will feature content leading up to and immediately following the event telecast.
2019 WORLD LONG DRIVE – TOUR EVENT SCHEDULE:
DATE EVENT LOCATION WINNERS
April 13-16 Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun Maricopa, Ariz. Phillis Meti, Tim Burke
May 5-7 Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson Fort Jackson, S.C. Chloe Garner, Ryan Steenberg, Mikael Dubois
June 3-5 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash Atlantic City, N.J. Phillis Meti, Tim Burke
July 20-24 ROC City Rumble Rochester, N.Y. Phillis Meti, Kyle Berkshire
Aug. 10-12 Tennessee Big Shots benefitting Niswonger Children’s Hospital Kingsport, Tenn. TBD
Aug. 30-Sept 4 44th World Long Drive Championship Texas/Oklahoma Border TBD
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.
ABOUT NISWONGER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Located in Johnson City, Tenn., Niswonger Children’s Hospital is the Appalachian Highlands region’s only children’s hospital. It serves more than 200,000 children in a 29-county radius in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeast Kentucky and Western North Carolina. Niswonger Children’s Hospital provides the region’s only pediatric oncology and hematology program, serving more than 300 children with cancer and blood disorders, and is home to one of only eight St. Jude Affiliate Clinics in the nation. The children’s hospital also offers more than 20 pediatric subspecialties, including pediatric cardiology, pediatric surgery, pediatric endocrinology and pediatric gastroenterology. Learn more about Niswonger Children’s Hospital at http://www.balladhealth.org/children.