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MARICOPA, Ariz. — Fresh off his first career win at the Cherry Bomb Long Drive Championship in Traverse City, Michigan, Wilson native Paul Howell finished second in the World Long Drive Association’s Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun tour stop Tuesday.
Howell, in his third season on the WLDA, advanced out of round-robin play with 600 points, with a drive of 379 yards as his longest.
The former Hunt High and Campbell University standout then garnered 500 points in the round of 16 to become one of eight quarterfinalists. Howell hit his longest shot of the tournament, 425 yards, in claiming the fifth set of the round. The the longest drive of the round by any golfer helped Howell tie for the final quarterfinals spot.
Advancing to match play in the event that was televised live on Golf Channel, Howell, whose career longest drive in WLDA event is 455 yards, crushed a drive 426 yards to beat Kyle Berkshire, whose best was 393. Howell then hit his longest drive 421 yards to advance past Justin James, who failed to hit a drive inbounds, into the championship round against Will Hogue. Howell hit five of his drives inbounds for an average of 411.4 yards.
Howell’s best drive soared 413 yards but it wasn’t enough to beat Hogue, who hit one 421 yards. Hogue had the longest drive of the tournament when he drilled one 430 yards to beat Steve Monroe, who had the top score in the quarterfinals round, in the opening round of match play.
It was Howell’s first runner-up finish since placing second at the WinStar Midwest Slam almost a year ago in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
The next WLDA stop is the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash on June 4-5 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, just before Howell is scheduled to make an appearance in his hometown.
He will be the celebrity guest driver at The Wilson Times Golf Tournament, benefiting the Times Summer Camp Fund, on Friday, June 8, at Willow Springs Country Club. For the price of a donation to the Summer Camp Fund, Howell will be available to hit a drive off the No. 3 tee at Willow Springs.
For more information on how to register to play in the Times Golf Tournament or make a donation and have Howell hit your tee shot on No. 3, telephone Shana Hoover at 252-265-7858.