As part of the pre-tournament festivities at the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, the NAIA sponsored a Longest Drive Competition. Huntington University senior Ryan Bonner won the event with a 373-yard blast that out-distanced his closest competitor by 23 yards.
The field for Monday's contest contained the six individual qualifiers and one member from each team participating in the National Tournament for a total of 36 competitors. Bonner, who has consistently been the team's longest driver throughout his four years, was the Foresters' representative. Each contestant had three attempts to put the ball on the fairway. Bonner landed two safely including the 373-yard winner. He was awarded an NAIA National Championship golf bag as the first place finisher.
"This was a fantastic way to start the tournament," said Coach Mark Green. "We are all very excited for Ryan. We all thought that he had a great chance to win it because he didn't have to change how hard he swings. Here at the tournament, no one had heard of Huntington University. This has definitely given the team and the institution some positive recognition. I also think it has given the team a little more confidence to see Ryan win the contest. The guys are anxious to get going."
The Foresters will head to the course today at noon to begin competition. They will be playing with golfers from Oklahoma Baptist University and Lee University who were ranked #6 and #15 respectively in the final NAIA poll. The Foresters received 18 votes in the last ranking. Bonner will tee it up first with his teammates Cory Powell, Jordan Dawes, Justin Imel and Spencer Batt following every nine minutes after him. HU will begin second round play tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.
For more information on the National Tournament, see NAIA Golf Championship.