It wasn’t quite the same as competing in the Ryder Cup, but Bryson DeChambeau still had plenty of enthusiasm and excitement when he teed off Tuesday at the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship in Mesquite, Nev.
The event played out in front of a few hundred fans sitting in small grandstand instead of the tens of thousands that were at Whistling Straits last week.
And rather than a worldwide broadcast with multiple cameras, slick technology and well-recognized broadcasters, this event was seen via a YouTube feed with some marginal capabilities. First prize was $50,000, or the equivalent to 41st place at this year’s U.S. Open.
Still, the event was engaging and intriguing. Entrants made four attempts, hitting six shots in each round. And the biggest name didn’t disappoint. In his third round, DeChambeau rode a strong wind to hit one 412 yards, one of the longest smacks of the day and more than enough to have him advance to Wednesday’s round of 16.
With each swing from the seventh-ranked golfer in the world, the small crowd roared its approval, and the announcers became overly excited.
“He swung out of his ass on that one!” cried one after DeChambeau launched a drive 405 yards.
DeChambeau is the longest hitter on the PGA Tour but that generally doesn’t transfer over to professional long-driving stage, where beefy guys with 48-inch drivers have a sole purpose in life to rip balls as hard and far as possible. In this domain, a drive of 375 yards is generally considered a bunt.
But as he does with every part of his golf game, DeChambeau has approached driving the golf ball from a scientific standpoint and slowly built up his speed and ball flight to maximize his distance. He came to this world championship to see if he could compete.
There were enough differences on this stage to necessitate some adjustments for DeChambeau. First, he not only had to hit his ball far but also somewhat straight, keeping it inside a grid chalked out on a field.
He also had a time limit at each appearance, hitting six balls within two minutes and 30 seconds. In his first of four times on the tee, the clock ran out before he could hit his final shot.
Three Canadians were also in the field: Hamilton, Ont.’s Jeff Gavin, Ryan Gregnol of Nipigon, Ont., and Dan McIntosh of High River, Alta., the world record holder for left-handed golfers.