Memorable Moments from the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition
The Par 3 Contest is to the Masters, what the Long Drive Competition is to the PGA Championship. A fixture on Tuesdays during Championship weeks, the Long Drive Competition started in 1949 but hasn’t been contested every year since its inception. After a 30-year hiatus, the Competition returned in 2014 and has become a must-see event since it’s return.
One hole is selected as the staging ground for each year’s Competition and players are given one chance to hit a tee shot, which must come to rest in the fairway in order to be eligible to win. Granted charitable donations are awarded to the top three finishers, who can designate their winnings to U.S. based charities of their choice.
Here’s a look back at some of the memorable moments from the history of the Competition.
Louis Oosthuizen Wins PGA Championship Long Drive Competition in Event’s Return
The 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club welcomed the return of the Long Drive Competition. That year, the 10th hole hosted the Competition and Louis Oosthuizen won with a 340-yard drive. He narrowly beat Jason Day, who came up just two-yards shy of Oosthuizen’s tee shot, and Johan Kok finished third with a 337-yard drive. Oosthuizen split his $25,000 donation between the South African and American Lakes Veterans Golf Course.
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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
Jack Nicklaus Wins 1963 Long Drive Competition
Superstition surrounds the winner of the Masters Par 3 Contest because the winner of that event has never gone on to win the Masters in the same year, but that doesn’t ring true for the PGA Championship Long Drive Competition. In 1963, Jack Nicklaus won the Competition with a 341-yard drive at Dallas Athletic Club with a persimmon driver and wound golf ball. That same year, Nicklaus went on to win the PGA Championship on the Blue Course for his third major title. The Golden Bear was awarded a money clip for his victory at the Long Drive Competition, which the 18-time major champion still carries. Today, the tradition continues with the top three finishers of the Competition also receiving a Nicklaus-inspired money clip.
History of the Long Drive Competition
In 1949, Chick Harbert won the inaugural Long Drive Competition with a 305-yard drive at Hermitage Country Club in Richmond, Virginia. He would go on to win his first and only major title at the 1954 PGA Championship at Keller Golf Course in Maplewood, Minnesota.
The longest drive in the event’s history belongs to Evan “Big Cat” Williams, who won the 1974 PGA Championship Long Drive Competition with a 366-yard tee shot at Tanglewood Golf Club in Clemmons, North Carolina.
The Long Drive Competition Continues
At the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Anirban Lahiri won with a 593-yard drive on the second hole. In 2016, Rory McIlroy took the early lead in the annual Competition with a 345-yard bomb off the first tee at Baltusrol Golf Club, but was bettered by Byeong-Hun An, who won with a 347-yard drive. Nicolas Colsaerts came in third at 341 yards.
One of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour, Jason Kokrak won a cloudy and wet Long Drive Competition at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club with a 321-yard tee shot at the 10th hole. That year, Tyrrell Hatton finished second with a 316-yard drive, followed by Dustin Johnson at 315 yards. At the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Golf Club, it was Bryson DeChambeau who topped the competition with a 331-yard drive that was nearly all carry. He narrowly edged out Peter Uihlein at 328 yards, followed by Tony Finau at 324 yards.
Max Homa Wins 2019 Long Drive Competition
The 16th hole at Bethpage Black hosted a cold and wet Long Drive Competition during the 2019 PGA Championship. Ahead of just his second major start, Max Homa won the contest with a drive of 318 yards. Shane Lowry, Patrick Reed and Casey Russel shared second place with tee shots of 310 yards. Justin Rose finished fifth at 307 yards.