5 players to watch at the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition
The 592-yard, par-5 10th hole at Quail Hollow will be the site of this year's PGA Championship Long Drive Competition, taking place during Tuesday's practice round.
In order for the drive to count, the ball must finish in the fairway.
Byeong-Hun An is the defending champion, belting a 347-yard drive in last year's competition on the first hole at Baltusrol.
Here's a look at the five players to keep an eye on in the competition, which will award the winner a commemorative gold money clip, as well as $25,000 to be donated on their behalf to a charity of their choice. Second- and third-place finishers will also have $15,000 and $10,000 given respectively to the charity of their choice, courtesy of PGA REACH.
5. Matt Dobyns. The two-time PGA Professional National Champion qualified for the PGA Championship this year based on his Top 20 finish at June's PGA Professional Championship in Sunriver, Oregon. Not only will Dobyns likely be the longest PGA Professional in the field at Quail Hollow, but his drives will also likely be among the longest in the entire field. Don't be the least bit surprised if the big swinger from Fresh Meadow in Lake Success, New York, leaves Charlotte with a shiny, new money clip.
4. Bubba Watson. The two-time Masters champion is 13th on Tour this season in driving distance, averaging 306.2 yards a poke. With a chance to smash just one drive, you don't want to bet against Watson. Expect him to rip one of his creative draw shots to maximize the roll out.
3. Brooks Koepka. The 2017 U.S. Open Champion is 10th on Tour this season with an average driving distance of 307.1 yards. With his build and his swing, you almost feel bad for what's about to happen to the golf ball. Koepka's longest drive on Tour this season was a 386-yard number back at the Memorial.
2. Rory McIlroy. A runner-up to An a year ago, McIlroy loves letting it rip in this competition. When his driver is "on," there are few in the game who can keep up. Twice this season, McIlroy has recorded drives of 393 yards on the PGA Tour.
1. Dustin Johnson. The distance DJ gets with his driver isn't even fair. The 2016 U.S. Open winner has averaged 313.3 yards off the tee this season — second-best on Tour — but also has the season's longest drive, one that traveled a monstrous 428 yards at the SBS Tournament of Champions. Four of Johnson's drives, in fact, were among the 11 longest on Tour this year. The shortest of those four? A whopping 404 yards.
This year will mark the fourth year of the Long Drive Competition's rebirth at the PGA Championship.
The first PGA Championship Long Drive Competition was held in 1952 at Big Spring Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
The most notable winner was Jack Nicklaus, who won in both contests he competed in, in 1963 and 1964. Using a persimmon driver, Nicklaus belted a drive of 341 yards to win the first year and 308 yards in the rain for his second title. Famously, Nicklaus was awarded a gold money clip for his 1963 victory, which he has used for over 50 years. He talked about his excitement to PGA.com in 2014.
"I thought it was exciting. I thought it was fun to do," Nicklaus said. "You would go out, warm up, you played your last practice round. It was a great gallery favorite. The people came out and they watched it. You went out and saw big, long drives, things you probably wouldn't do in the tournament. I think it created some excitement."
Nicklaus posted this in 2015, displaying the money clip he still carries from that 1963 win:
Congratulations to Anirban Lahiri, who won the PGA Championship’s Long Drive Competition with a tee shot of 327 yards on the par-5 second hole at Whistling Straits. Lahiri received $25,000 for his favorite charity, and the PGA sent a matching gift to American Lake Veterans Golf Course, the Tacoma, Wash., course designed for use by disabled veterans and where Jack Nicklaus donated his services for a new nine holes. Lahiri also earned a money clip inspired by Jack’s long-drive victory at the 1963 PGA. The Golden Bear’s drive of 341 yards, 17 inches with a persimmon driver earned him a money clip he still uses (see photo). “Now I have least one thing in common with the legendary Jack Nicklaus," Lahiri boasted. ?⛳️@pgachampionship #pgachamp #thisismajor #jacknicklaus #goldenbear #longdrive #moneyclip #golf