Titleist's Martens wins Long Drive at Industry Cup

Titleist's Grant Martens captured the Long Drive Championship at the Industry Cup in Irvine, Calif.

Titleist's Grant Martens captured the Long Drive Championship at the Industry Cup in Irvine, Calif.

IRVINE, Calif. -- There is no shortage of big, strong men who work for various golf companies, but the longest hitter in the golf industry barely weighs 150 pounds and looks like an escapee from a junior golf camp.

Grant Martens, the winner of Golfweek's Industry Cup Long Drive Championship, is 24 years old. A good-natured chap, Martens did everything but playfully flex his muscles when asked about his weight.

He obviously didn't expect to be standing in the champion's circle. In fact, he got into the 16-man, single-elimination competition Saturday afternoon only after another contestant withdrew.

When he isn't pounding long, straight drives -- with an emphasis on straight -- Martens is an associate research engineer for Titleist. How serious is Titleist about its golf equipment? Martens specializes in the FEA (finite element analysis) of golf clubs.

Martens captured the long drive title at Oak Creek Golf Club, where Golfweek's 36-hole Industry Cup Golf Championship is being played. After reaching the final against Brett Viboch, a research and development test technician for Cobra Puma Golf, Martens won the crown impressively. On a cold and rainy day, he definitely saved his finest driving for last.

With his allotted three drives, Martens hit consecutive tee shots of 312, 313 and 314 yards off the 10th tee at Oak Creek. All three drives ended up no more than 10 feet apart near the middle of the fairway.

The 10th is a narrow hole with a fairway that slopes right to left. Keeping the ball in that fairway is something of a trick, and Martens did it far better than anyone else.

Viboch, for example, couldn't find the fairway with any of his three final drives.

In the day's opening match between Zane Nuttall of Mitsubishi Rayon and John Hayes of TaylorMade, the first nine drives were wide of the fairway before Hayes found the promised land with the 10th ball.

Later, in a match between Marshall Thompson of Fujikura and Josh Sullivan of TaylorMade, the first 12 drives missed the fairway. Thompson eventually prevailed.

As Martens prepared to lead off the final match, a voice cried out from the gallery, "You're the only one who can hit it in the fairway, Grant."

True enough, but Martens didn't seems too impressed with his victory. "I'm freezing," he said. "Let's go back to the clubhouse."

A superb Tom Fazio design, Oak Creek is a public facility. It opened in 1996. This is the first time it has hosted the Industry Cup.

In the first round, using a shamble competition on the front nine and a four-ball format on the back nine, two Callaway teams shared the lead at 7-under 135. Members of one team were Matt Haneline, Gregg Hemphill, Luke Williams and Marc Zien. The other team included Ben Malamitsas, John Milynarski IV, Brandon Stengel and Ross Stewart.

Defending champions Scott Oxandaboure, Tom Sugameli, Kevin Tassistro and Brice Waddell of Titleist were six back at 1-under 141.

In the last three years, teams from Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist (in that order) have won the championship.

• • •

Long Drive results

First round losers: Greg Cavill, TaylorMade; Mike Guerette, UST Mamiya; Zane Nuttall, Mitsubishi Rayon; Josh Sullivan, TaylorMade; Bobby Ennis, UST Mamiya; Drew Herchko, Titleist; Kevin Tassistro, Titleist; Roger Teat, Cobra Puma.

Quarterfinals: Grant Martens, Titleist, d. Josh Westrum, Callaway, 304-283; Marshall Thompson, Fujikura, d. John Hayes, TaylorMade, 303-300; Brett Viboch, Cobra Puma, d. Frank Firman, TaylorMade, 304-OB; Marc Zien, Callaway, d. Luke Williams, Callaway, 309-OB.

Semifinals: Martens d. Thompson, 305-299; Viboch d. Zien, 304-OB.

Final: Martens d. Viboch, 314-OB.

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