Bryson DeChambeau is once again proving that he can hang with the guys who are the longest bangers of golf balls in the world.
DeChambeau finished seventh in his debut last year in the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championships and said he was “hungry” to return to the grid in Mesquite, Nev. And he devoured much of the field again after a strong performance on Friday.
The former U.S. Open champion, who is now playing on the LIV Golf circuit, hit a long drive of 402 yards and finished second in his group standings to be among the top 32 players to advance to the next round. A Saturday morning session will determine the top 16 that will compete in the afternoon finals (the action is being shown live on YouTube), and though DeChambeau might still be considered a mid-long shot, his effort on Friday was impressive.
In 94-degree heat, with the wind sometimes strongly blowing at the hitters’ backs, DeChambeau launched the required 30 balls over five sessions. Fifteen of those drives found the grid to be counted, and his longest shots for each session were 396, 392, 402, 395 and 400.
Last year, DeChambeau topped out at 406 yards in the final, and he likely would need to do far better than that to win. Kyle Berkshire defended his title last year with a blast of 422 in the finals, and Berkshire pounded Friday’s best drive of 439. The effort by Berkshire is remarkable, considering he is only 23 days removed from hamate surgery.
The drivers saved their best for last on Friday with a four-man set in which Justin James, the runner-up to Berkshire last year, hammered a 426-yard drive and was followed by Scottie Pearman going 423, Brandon Flynn 411 and DeChambeau 400.
“My hands definitely aren’t ready for it. Like my hands are already getting sore from just not hitting as many long drivers,” DeChambeau said on the YouTube broadcast on Wednesday night. “I had one week to get ready for this. Definitively wasn’t fully prepared. But no excuses. You go right into it. I was able to come out of here with the victory today.”
Not long after his 2021 appearance in the PLDA Championship, DeChambeau began having trouble with his wrist. It was injury he says wasn’t directly tied to his preparation for the long drive competition, but it eventually sidelined him from playing PGA Tour events early in 2022 and ultimately required surgery in April.