By Mr. Tim Hipps (FMWRC)September 17, 2010
DALLAS - Six military golfers, led by Army 2nd Lt. Preston Collich, advanced Sept. 11 to the finals of the 2010 Military Long Drive Championship presented by 7UP.
Collich, who is stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala., had the longest drive of the day at 323 yards. A soft grid and headwinds gusting up to 20 miles per hour at City Pointe Driving Range curtailed distances.
"These were the hardest conditions I've hit in," said Collich, who is attending flight school at Fort Rucker. "With the headwind and the soft conditions in the grid, a drive of 300 or 305 yards was a good ball. Any other day that would get you nowhere."
Advancing with Collich from the winner's side of the bracket in the double-elimination format were Nevada Army National Guard Pfc. Robert "Chad" Duncan (310 yards), Army Capt. Jeremy Williams (307 yards) and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rocky Alumbaugh (302 yards).
Alumbaugh, a member of the Florida National Guard, claimed his spot in the finals by winning a three-ball playoff with Spc. Michael Svoboda, 294-291.
Capt. Mikael Dubois (306 yards) and Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Damon (311 yards) secured the last two spots in the finals, scheduled for Nov. 3 in Mesquite, Nev. Damon and Dubois survived a four-for-two shootout in the loser's bracket against Staff Sgt. Jake Taylor (300 yards) and Svoboda (299 yards).
The six U.S. regional survivors will be joined on the tee in Mesquite by three international qualifiers - Staff Sgt. Kelsey Steiner of Yongsan, Korea; Staff Sgt. Brian King of Wiesbaden, Germany; and family member Brandon Boehmer of Camp Zama, Japan - plus three-time defending champion Ryan Hixson, who was exempted into the finals.
Hixon, an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard, won the inaugural staging of the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-backed competition in 2007 and has twice successfully defended his title.
The tournament winner earns $10,000 and exemptions into the 2011 Military and RE/MAX World Long Drive Championships.