We already knew Kyle Berkshire is the longest hitter on the planet. But now he has the title belt to prove it.
The top-ranked hitter on the World Long Drive Association won the 44th World Long Drive Championship, easily beating No. 2 Tim Burke in the final at WinStar World Casino and Resort. For the 22-year-old Berkshire, it’s his first win in the event that is essentially the long drive circuit’s Masters and Super Bowl rolled into one.
“This feels awesome,” said Berkshire. “It’s validated a lot of the hard work and sacrifice I’ve put into [being] the best, and I am the best right now. I look forward to raising that bar.”
Burke went first in the final (the higher seed gets to choose the order) and never found his groove. The two-time World Long Drive champ hit too many high-spinners, maxing out at 374 yards in his eight attempts.
Berkshire, a former college golfer at North Texas from Crofton, Md., sent his first three tries OB, but found the grid with his third for a 406-yard winning drive. Not nearly his best in competition(492 yards!)—and well short of the final record of 435 yards—but comfortably enough to win the coveted World Long Drive Championship belt.
But while chalk prevailed on the men’s side, there was an upset on the woman’s side as South African Chloe Garner (347 yards) bested World No. 1 and three-time world champ Phillis Meti of New Zealand (344 yards).
“That was unbelievable,” said Garner. “I felt really good going into it. I felt like I had found a good rhythm. I think maybe Phillis felt a bit more pressure having to back up those titles, whereas I was able to let loose.”
Berkshire, however, clearly felt pressure of his own being the heavy favorite entering the event. In the Round of 16 on Tuesday night, he was down to his final swing and in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, he needed to come through on his second-to-last attempt to advance.
But he did both times—in addition to overcoming a minor rules controversy—to pick up a third straight victory and first world championship. Unfortunately for his opponents, he's just getting started.