Bryson DeChambeau is renowned in the golfing world for his stunning long drives. And he’s just cemented his place among the finest drivers in the world by making it to the quarter-finals on debut at the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship.
DeChambeau was the first full-time PGA Tour golfer to compete for the US $50,000 winner’s prize in the 139-competitor field at Mesquite, Nevada – known as the home of long driving.
After launching five drives that travelled 400-plus yards in his opening rounds through the week, DeChambeau put on a show in the Round of 16, launching three bombs that were measured at over 350km/h and crossing the 400-yard line three times.
In the final 16, the recent Ryder Cup winner played five sets of six shots each, with the top eight performers – based on their finishing positions in each four-man set. DeChambeau moving into the quarterfinals. Bryson claimed two second-places and two thirds before securing his spot with a clutch final-set win.
In the first set DeChambeau launched a 389-yarder, eight yards behind the opener from American rival Kyle Berkshire. Then German star Martin Borgmeier dropped a 416-yard bomb to storm into the lead. DeCheambeau launched a 386-yard shot then unleashed an unbelievable 417-yarder that was eventually recalibrated to 406 yards, enough to earn him second place in the set.
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It sent commentators and a packed fan gallery absolutely wild. Commentator and former baseball star Bobby Bradley lost his mind as he screamed: “The fastest men on the planet are putting on a show right now including Bryson DeChambeau!
“417 yards, he takes the lead. Can we say it on YouTube, who cares. Let’s f***ing go! Woo, let’s go! DeChambeau. That was unbelievable. What a show. Are you not entertained? Yes, yes, let’s go!”
“He belongs, he belongs,” he added, while his fellow commentator and 2007 World Champion Mike Dobbyn replied, “He absolutely does belong”.
It was measured at a speed of 218 miles per hour (351km/h) – his fastest of the week – something he repeated in his second set before going even faster.
DeChambeau struck 372 and then 386 yards in his second set as the wind died off, but his 386 was enough to hand him third, just three yards behind Wes Patterson’s 389 yards on his sixth ball. That left him in a scrap with three sets remaining.
DeChambeau then launched 383, 400, 376, then 403 yards – enough for second in the set.
Bobby Bradley declared: “DeChambeau! He’s here to win. This kid is such a stud.”
American Colton Casto hit 404 yards. then blew the competition apart with a 420 in his final shot.
DeChambeau struck 396, 379, 394 and 384 yards in his fourth set before heartbreak struck. Justin James struck 403, 407 and 404-yard drives, meaning DeCheambeau’s 396 was enough for third – losing once again on the final ball to Zack Holton’s 397 yards. But it was Bryson’s fastest shot of the tournament with a 219 mph (352.45km/h) speed.
Bryson was in tenth place heading into the final set and needing a victory to stay alive.
Canadian Ryan Gregnol, who appeared to pull his right groin muscle in his fourth set, was in eighth. He managed a 364 yards but exacerbated his injury and was forced to pull out of the tournament despite qualifying for the final eight.
DeChambeau’s first shot went out of bounds. But he launched a strong 386-yard attempt, before sending his next wide. He struck a 394-yarder as the wind picked up, then sent his next two wide. Japan’s Taiga Tazawa’s best was a 377-yard effort while American Josh Koch failed to strike one in the field of play.
It meant that DeChambeau won the set, and qualified in eighth for the quarter-finals. The quarter-final was split into two groups of four with each golfer taking just six drives apiece – a single-set set showdown.
With the sun going down, DeChambeau launched a 389 yard-drive then a 384-yard effort.
German Martin Borgmeier – the world record holder for the fastest speed recorded in a golf shot – struck a 397-yarder, while Justin James launched a 403-yards to take the lead. DeChambeau then exploded into life with a 391-yard bomb, finishing third and failing to progress to the semi-finals.
Dobbyn said: “What a show. That was awesome. He pull on a hell of a show. Really really cool to watch.”
American Kyle Berkshire claimed the win with a 422-yard effort in the final, while countryman Justin James was just short with 418 yards.
He advanced to the Round of 16 — the competition’s final stage — after posting victories in two of his five sets on Thursday (Friday AEST), finishing fourth out of 16 contestants in his group and firing off winning drives of 358 and 333 yards along with a day-long drive of 359 yards.
“I’m getting tired, I can tell you that,” DeChambeau said via ESPN after Thursday’s event. “It’s an endurance battle. These guys have some higher speeds and more endurance than me. They’ve trained for this a lot longer. It’s definitely just an honour to get to the last round.
“I did not think I was going to get to the final round, but the conditions were right for me and worked out pretty well.”
DeChambeau, the first full-time PGA Tour player to participate in the PLDA World Championship, led the Tour with an average driving distance of 321.5 this past year and accepted an invitation in late August to participate in the long-drive event — saying at the time that he wanted to show the world “how incredibly talented and hardworking these athletes are.”
He currently sits No. 9 in the World Gold Rankings, and helped the United States clinch its first Ryder Cup victory since 2016 last weekend with a 19-9 victory over Team Europe.
On the PLDA event’s first day, DeChambeau used those five 400-yard drives to finish tied for second in his group of 16, which included him in the top-12 status required to move onto the next day. His first two balls in the opening set sailed out of bounds, but hit just nine of his 30 total balls out of bounds that day, according to Golf Channel. That gave him the best ratio in his group.
“I felt like I just won something today, won a big PGA tournament, even though I just qualified for the next day,” DeChambeau said on Tuesday.
Parts of this story originally appeared on the NY Post and are reproduced with permission.