Bryson DeChambeau's first foray into the world of long driving has come to an end. DeChambeau made it to the final eight of the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship but was eliminated in the next round Friday night in Mesquite, Nevada.
DeChambeau squeaked into the top eight, in the final spot, from the round robin of 16 golfers. He hit a 406-yard drive in his first set, which was good for second in his group to Martin Borgmeier's 416-yard drive.
DeChambeau was able to win his fifth set with a 394-yard drive that put him into the eighth spot to make it to the next round.
Each golfer hit six balls against three other golfers in five different sets. First place is worth 200 points in the set, with second worth 100, 50 for third and 25 points for fourth. Once DeChambeau made it to the top eight, he was able to rifle a 391-yard drive, but that was good for only third in his set to Borgmeier's 397-yard drive and Justin James' 403-yard drive.
DeChambeau's best drive for the whole tournament reached 412 yards in the first round, and he was able to reach the 400-yard mark nine times.
DeChambeau said he didn't have high expectations going into the event, given that it was his first long-drive competition, but he said this wouldn't be the last one we will see him in.
"I'm definitely going to continue to keep doing this, and I think these guys that are bigger, better, faster, stronger than me are going to keep pushing me to go faster," DeChambeau said. "And I think this is going to translate over really, really well to the PGA Tour."
Despite not winning the competition, DeChambeau said one of his goals was to bring more awareness to the sport of long driving. The number of viewers on the Professional Long Drivers Association livestream rose each day, peaking at around 45,000 viewers on Friday.
Kyle Berkshire is the world's No. 1 long driver and was the winner of this event. He has been a friend of DeChambeau's and had worked with him before this event.
After seeing some of the numbers from the livestream and the attention the sport was getting this week, Berkshire had high praise for DeChambeau's impact on the sport.
"I think it's very safe to say, you could almost call him a savior of the sport, honestly, because I think it's safe to say we wouldn't have had nearly the attention on this if he hadn't decided to come compete," Berkshire said. "I think it's a testament to Bryson and how special of an athlete he is to go from a Ryder Cup, and doing well, dominating, to getting extremely far and becoming a final-eight contestant at his first world championship. To put that in perspective, that would be like me finishing top 10 on a PGA Tour event my first try.
"I mean, it's unbelievable what he did. It's almost unfathomable."
Before the event, Berkshire predicted DeChambeau would make it into the top 16 but knew it would be difficult for him to win, given the talent in the event. He called it one of the most stacked final-16 groups he has seen and said DeChambeau held his own among the sport's very best.
Berkshire said he was thankful for DeChambeau's participation and was effusive in his praise. He said he believes the sport of long driving was headed in the wrong direction before this week, but he has a much more positive outlook for the future this weekend.
"The sport of long drive has been in a very difficult spot for about a year and a half since Golf Channel dropped it, and I literally think we just brought long drive back from the dead," Berkshire said. "I think we saved the sport with what happened today. Honestly, you know we played a huge role in it, everybody, all the hitters -- Martin Borgmeier, Josh Koch, Justin James, all these guys played such a tremendous role, and it's just awesome to see the sport getting the attention it deserves."
DeChambeau said he is going to continue to try to grow the sport but that he's not giving up his day job on the PGA Tour. Although he still has his main focus on the Tour, he said after his performance in this event and seeing he has the ability to hit an all-time high of 219 mph ball speed in a professional competition, he thinks he'll have more confidence on tour to unleash even longer drives than before.
"I've learned how to control the golf ball at those speeds, and this is going to translate over to having extreme confidence on tour in general," DeChambeau said. "That's what people don't realize. Even though you're hitting it super far, it's the irons, the speeds you can create with your irons and the shots you can hit off the tee. Now with people hitting 3-wood, drivers, you can hit 4-irons off the tee, because they're just as far, and I can keep it in the fairway and control it a lot better.
"That confidence is instrumental in having a new level of play on the PGA Tour."