ALL day long, they stepped to the 10th tee, only one shot away from prodigious glory.
In the end, and it was 340 yards later when his ball stopped in the fairway, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa emerged as the winner of the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition at Valhalla Golf Club.
Reviving an event that started at the 1952 PGA Championship at Big Spring Country Club in Louisville, the PGA of America offered all players in the field the opportunity to hit one tee shot at the par-5 10th hole.
The ball had to come to rest in the fairway to be eligible to win the Long Drive Competition.
Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters Champion, set the target with the very first shot on the hole, at 7 a.m. His 320-yard drive held up for several hours until he was passed by 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley (326 yards), then moments later by Rickie Fowler (328 yards).
The PGA Tour's leading long driver Bubba Watson refused to compete, using a 3-iron off the tee at the 10th, while another favourite, Rory McIlroy, missed the fairway, as did Padraig Harrington with his ‘Happy Gilmore’ effort.
Later, Jason Day of Australia passed all of them with a 338-yard wallop, but he too was outdone later in the afternoon by Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Champion.
PGA Club Professional Johan Kok was third (337 yards). Oosthuizen, Day and Kok each will get a money clip inspired by the one that Jack Nicklaus received in the first of his two consecutive PGA Championship Driving Contest titles, in 1963.
That year, Nicklaus, using a persimmon driver and wound golf ball, hit a winning drive of 341 yards, 17 inches.
Additionally, through PGA REACH, the foundation of the PGA of America, Oosthuizen, Day and Kok are provided charitable donations of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000, respectively, with the funds split equally between the players’ designated charity and the American Lake Veterans Golf Course.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the American Lake Veterans Golf Course is the nation’s only golf course designed specifically for the rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans.
“I thought it was a great addition. We all loved it. We all had fun with it,” said 2005 PGA Champion Phil Mickelson, who was in the same group as Fowler and Bradley.
“And we had the feedback right there to let you know how far the drive was. I thought it was terrific. I hope they keep doing it.”
Final Results of the 2014 PGA Championship Long Drive Championship
1. Louis Oosthuizen 340 yds.
2. Jason Day 338 yds.
3. Johan Kok 337 yds.
4. Gary Woodland 330 yds.
5. Rickie Fowler 328 yds.
6. Keegan Bradley 326 yds.
7. Danny Willett 322 yds.
8. Adam Scott 320 yds.
9. Sergio Garcia 320 yds.
10. Scott Piercy 320 yds.
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