MESQUITE, Nev. — In the end, Bryson DeChambeau eclipsed the expectations of himself and many others.
As the sun began to set over the mountains flanking this rural Nevada town, DeChambeau, who last Sunday was a key member of the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team, finished 7th in the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championships. The competition began with 80 long drivers, and DeChambeau advanced to the event’s fourth and final day.
Kyle Berkshire, who defended his title, spoke glowingly of DeChambeau and this year’s event.
“This is the most stacked top 16 I have ever hit against, no doubt. These guys’ speeds are insane,” Berkshire said. “I'm so proud of Bryson. He came out here and put himself in a position where not a lot of people thought he would do well … he held his own against the absolute best and made the final eight in his first try after coming from the Ryder Cup. That is phenomenal and I'm not just saying in the context of golf, that is one of the greatest sporting achievements I've ever seen.”
Berkshire defeated Justin James in the final with a blast of 422 yards, which was held with a slight helping wind.
Following the second round, Berkshire predicted DeChambeau could make the final eight based on the Tour pro’s swing and ball speed numbers. DeChambeau made his long drive mentor look prophetic when he recorded his fastest speeds ever during the final day.
“Getting the 219 mph ball speed out here was a dream come true,” DeChambeau said. “I never thought I would get to that type of speed. I broke the barrier by three miles an hour faster than I've ever gone in my entire life.”
DeChambeau’s longest drive of the day was 406 yards and he was knocked out of the competition when he finished third in his group of 4 during the final 8. James and Martin Borgmeier advanced with blasts of 403 yards and 397 respectively. DeChambeau’s final 8 blast “only” traveled 391 yards.
In the other final four, Berkshire and Bryce Verplank advanced with drives of 409 yards and 398 yards.
DeChambeau’s distance mission began about two years ago and has been well documented. He led the PGA Tour in driving distance in each of the last two seasons and his epic 417-yard drive at the Ryder Cup will live in history.
Now, he has proven once and for all that he’s among the long-drive elite, and his massive displays of emotion throughout the week added extra interest around the event. This event gained a traction as it progressed, as more than 30,000 viewers logged in to watch the final rounds live on YouTube. Golf Channel also cut in to show some of the finals live. DeChambeau said that Ryder Cup vice captain Fred Couples, and some of his team members, texted them throughout the week about how great it was.
“I think if we're smart about it, this thing will be bigger, better and badder next year,” DeChambeau said. “I really believe this is something that the world needs to see every single year because it's pushing the game of golf in a really positive, fun, enjoyable way that nobody's seen before to this level. I mean, having four guys up there, then two guys who go battle it out in the final. I think that type of format is unbelievable. Hopefully we can get pyrotechnics and fireworks blowing up everywhere after whoever wins (next year). I'm very excited to see what the future holds. I am not sure what it's going to be like, but we're going to do our best to pump it up.”
DeChambeau will now take a couple weeks off to heal his body, hands and mind. He likely won’t play again until the ZOZO Championship Oct. 21–24 in Japan.
“This week, I learned I can control the ball at these high speeds,” DeChambeau said. “Obviously, I think I hit the most balls in the grid this week and I used my golf skills to do that. Yesterday, I didn't hit it very well, but I learned how to hit it better today, so I was able to get my swing back in tune and rhythm. It felt really good to be able to fix my golf swing at these highest speeds because that is something I've never done before. I've always just been bashing balls, trying to go as hard as possible, not really caring how the swing was, but hitting it in the grid at those speeds, that's a new level. I hope that translates (to the PGA Tour.)
The top-8 finish stunned DeChambeau. It also created a new desire for more.
“I am definitely hungry to come back,” DeChambeau said. “I hope it fits in the schedule and we can work it out with the Tour to make sure it works right.”
Other long drivers who won world titles on Friday were Kanani Lodge (women), Kyle Gabbard (amateur) and Jeff Gavin (senior).