The best long drivers in the world took a trip across the pond to participate in the Continental Long Drive Open, held on May 20th-21st in Burgwedel, Germany. Top WLD athletes including Josh Koch, Sam Judah, Colton Casto, Ryan Gregnol and more joined Martin Borgmeier in his home country for the European Long Games event. In unfamiliar territory, these athletes faced new challenges in their competition routines. Despite the nuances, Josh Koch still emerged victorious and captured the title amongst a field of elite hitters from all over the world.
After a slow morning in the qualifying events, Josh Koch knew he had to pivot and refocus if he wanted to take home the trophy. “I had a bad morning in the qualifying, so I was actually one of the lowest seeds going into match play… this format gives the highest seeds byes so I basically got no help and then had to win six sets to win the whole event, which is crazy to think about” – Koch
Josh Koch credited his slow start as a result of a new travel schedule. “I was curious to see how I would respond. And, good news for me was I had been hitting it really well going into it and even with a bad morning in the seeding round, I knew I was capable of catching fire during the match play, which I said live on air during the first round.”- Koch
“Don’t let me catch fire. And I did”– Koch. Josh had two tough opponents in the final rounds, he had to beat Sam Judah in the semi finals and then James Brosnan in the finals to seal the deal.
The European Long Games format provides the players who do the best in qualifying rounds an easier path to the finals contrary to World Long Drive, where in the quarterfinals, each player must advance in a head-to-head style match. Given this added format challenge, Josh still managed to have a perfect afternoon and clinch his first championship of the season.
Off the grid, Josh and the other WLD athletes were hosted by Martin and given a taste of local flavor. “It was awesome, all the guys from the US got there on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. We spent Wednesday in Munich, and then we hit a Munich Golf Club on Thursday. Martin gave us a tour of downtown Thursday night, and then on Friday, he took us down to the mountain range, which is right on the Austria border.” -Koch
It was a change in perspective for many of the American athletes who are accustomed to only traveling nationally. “I was six hours out of my normal time zone, which had me starting to feel most of what Martin feels at most events.” -Koch
Koch and Borgmeier have formed a close relationship over the years as competitors and friends. “He (Martin) was a phenomenal host, and you could tell he was proud to have the guys in town. Proud to show off his city, his country. And, I was impressed with what he and his team were able to get done.” – Koch
The trip gave the American athletes a new perspective on the challenges of traveling and competing across time zones. The growth of the sport is evident with an exponential number of long drive events happening globally. Athletes like Martin Borgmeier, Matt Stubbs, Taiga Tazawa and many more travel to the United States to compete in the World Long Drive because of the larger prize purses and televised exposure. World Long Drive is international, with other countries set to host sanctioned events and be represented at World Long Drive Championships in October. Growth of the sport is also happening in the digital space, with the recent launch of World Long Drive Virtual Tournament, a partnership with TrackMan. Amateurs can access any of the 5,000 TrackMan locations world wide to enter for a chance to win $1,000 in monthly prizes and a chance to go compete in the virtual championships, which boasts a prize pool of $25,000.
To learn more about this tournament, visit our Virtual Tournament page at worldlongdrive.com
And, to watch highlights of WLD athletes, see real time action and behind the scenes footage, follow us on social @worldlongdrive