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June Golf Article - Allen Figures Out Grid To Take Home Tennessee Shootout Title

The Greeneville Sun, June 17, 2017

Allen Figures Out Grid To Take Home Tennessee Shootout Title

By Tate Russell, Sun Sports Writer
All images courtesy of The Greeneville Sun, Photographer:  Tate Russell

Maurice Allen has been in the Laughlin Memorial Hospital Tennessee Long Drive Shootout often, but has never had much success.  That all changed this week for the big hitter from Alpharetta, Ga. as he found the grid consistently and took home the title at the 17th edition of the tournament.

“This was a grind,” Allen said.  “I had to work hard to get this one.  This is absolutely an amazing feeling.”

“When you come out here against the top guys in the world, it’s not easy.  All of these guys can hit the ball.  The sport is growing and it feels amazing to get this win.”

Allen has put a lot of work into his craft recently and he feels that winning on the narrow grid laid out on the first hole of Knobs Nine at Graysburg Hills Golf Course shows that he is improving.

“I’ve been working with my coach T.J. Dorsey a lot.  I hit a lot of balls over the winter and worked on shaping the ball a lot,” Allen said.  “This grid is maybe a hair over half the size of our normal grids.  This is a tough grid to hit.”

“Shaping the ball is really a big deal here.  It’s the most challenging grid we play and I had to improve my skills.  Now my coach is going to kick my butt, because he won’t listen to any excuses about missing the grid ever again.”

Allen has previously won events all across the world – taking home titles in the Netherlands, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand last year – but Friday’s victory was his first in the United States.

In the finals, Allen – the eighth-ranked long driver in the world – squared off against Canadian newcomer Mitch Grassing, and the two battled to the finish.  Both hitters were reported to have drives of 384 yards on their second hit, and that turned up the pressure through the final six hits as both tried to pound balls through the thick air.

It turned out Grassing’s ball had been called in wrong and he only had a drive of 378 yards, giving Allen the win and a $10,000 payday without having to go to a hit off.

“When you get in the final, there is no ‘Let’s smooth one out and get it in the grid’,” Allen said.  “You have to go down swinging.”

“I hit that one 384 down the right slot and it felt really good when I hit it.  He comes back with the same number and I just think, ‘Oh no’.  We are both trying to rip and run, and putting up 360 and 370.  When he came back at 378, it was such a big sigh of relief.”

Grassing took second place and the $6,000 that came with it, along with 600 world ranking points.  That will be enough to get the 21-year old on the back end of the top 32 in the world, which will give him the opportunity to play in some of the sport’s biggest events as he tries to become a regular on the tour.

Grassing’s long drive of the day was 385 yards.  Kevin Shook had the big hit of the evening with a blast of 389 yards.

Glen Wilson took third place with a drive of 365 yards in the semifinals, and Steve Monroe was fourth with a semifinal drive of 351.  They both pocketed $4,500.

Shook finished eighth, Kyle Berkshire was seventh and Tommy Hug and Patrick Hopper tied for fifth place.  All four were handed checks for $2,500.

Ninth through 16th places each won $825.

Photo:  Maurice Allen (left) and Mitch Grassing (right) embrace after Allen won the Laughlin Memorial Hospital Tennessee Long Drive Shootout on Friday.

Photo:  Maurice Allen takes a swing on Friday in the Tennessee Long Drive Shootout at Graysburg Hills Golf Course.

Photo:  Maurice Allen celebrates after winning the Laughlin Memorial Hospital Tennessee Long Drive Shootout at Graysburg Hills on Friday