MESQUITE, Nev. — Bryson DeChambeau has successfully qualified for the final day of the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championships in Mesquite, Nev. The competition started with 80 long drivers. Sixteen remain.
Kyle Berkshire, the 2019 world champion, summed it up best:
“Bryson is officially in the long drive club now.”
A weary DeChambeau was thrilled to advance, even if he didn’t believe it was possible at the beginning of the competition, held here at the Mesquite Sports and Event Complex about 77 miles north of Las Vegas.
“I never thought I would make the final 16,” DeChambeau said. “I thought I'd make it to the round of 32, but the top 16 is pretty sweet. It’s pretty cool to be able to say I am one of the top 16 long drivers in the world. I am one of the best players in the world and also now one of the longest drivers. So, again, that’s pretty sweet.”
His next goal is the top 8, but the talent and speed of the long drivers is now much more consolidated. DeChambeau will have to reach a new gear to advance. In his Thursday afternoon group of 16, DeChambeau finished tied for fourth with Nick Vorbeck, Ryan Gregnol and Scottie Pearman. DeChambeau belted a longest drive of 359 yards.
Ryan Steenberg was the dominant winner of the session. He won four of his five sessions and finished second in the other. His longest drive was 366 yards.
“I feel blessed and honored just to be here and I am grateful to Bryson to share the tee box with him,” Steenberg said. “It feels good to get the long drive juices flowing again.”
In the earlier session, Justin James finished first with a long drive of 366 yards. Berkshire, who chatted with DeChambeau on the range after his session, finished tied for third with Bryce Verplank.
DeChambeau admitted that he will need every ounce of energy, adrenaline and good fortune to advance any farther. It’s been a long stretch of golf for him, which included helping lead the United States to a victory in the Ryder Cup and a 7th-place finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“My hands are getting tired because I've never done four days of speed training in a row like this and this is kind of like speed training,” DeChambeau said. “Hopefully, I can get my hands all dialed up and ready to go because my body feels great.”
DeChambeau has passed the long drive quiz, mid-term and done the homework. Now comes the final exam. The odds may be tilted against him.
“The first couple of days, I was just excited to be out here competing and I was very nervous,” DeChambeau said. “The second day I felt like, ‘Okay, I've got a lot of these guys.’ But the third day, these guys are right there with me and it's not easy. You're going up against some of the best in the world. In the last set, you can clearly see that guys are 20 yards past me. I didn't have my best and have the right spin rate or launch or anything, and I think there's still faster and better in me. I just have to hope for some right winds and some good kicks tomorrow.”
Overall, DeChambeau rated his day 3 performance as a 6 or 7 for accuracy and a 9 or 10 for distance. On Friday, he will need 10s across the board to achieve the seemingly impossible and win the 2021 PLDA world title.
The top 16 qualifiers were Ryan Steenberg, Nick Vorbeck, Ryan Gregnol, Scottie Pearman, Bryson DeChambeau, Martin Borgmeier, Zack Holton, Taiga Tazawa, Justin James, Colton Casto, Kyle Berkshire, Bryce Verplank, Brandon Flynn, Wes Patterson, Hyeon jun Hong and Josh Koch. Scores and livestream are available at prolongdrivers.com