Jeff Flagg, 29, of Pelham, Ala., got the 13 extra inches he needed Tuesday to win the 2014 RE/MAX World Drive Championship, along with the coveted championship belt and winner-take-all $250,000.
Windy conditions at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort hampered the players who are used to putting up distances of more than 400 yards. Tied at 365 yards after their requisite six drives in the championship match, Flagg and 43-year-old Jeff Crittenden of Greensboro, N.C., waited anxiously for an exact measurement to the inch that would break the tie and determine who would be the ultimate winner.
Flagg’s drive bested Crittenden by a mere 13 inches, which proved to be the shortest margin of victory in the history of the RE/MAX World Drive Championship competition.
Eight finalists – the Las Vegas 8 – competed in head-to-head matches requiring all to conquer the conditions in attempts to hit drives requiring both distance and accuracy. Of the total seven head-to-head matches, five were decided by two yards or less.
Crosswinds and crisp temperatures created a challenging environment, making it difficult for all players to hit the grid or reach the distances to which they have become accustomed.
Headlining the field of eight heading into the night were returning former champions Joe Miller of London, England, and Jamie Sadlowski of St. Paul, Alberta, Canada, who faced off early in the telecast. The other competitors included: Daniel Beckman, Fresno, Calif.; Matt Hanger, Anaheim, Calif.; Connor Powers, Naperville, Ill.; and Adam Smith, Tomball, Texas.
The RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship identifies the longest golfer on earth and offers sports fans a chance to witness players who generate mammoth swing speeds of 150 mph and ball speeds of 220 mph. In comparison, the highest average swing speed on the PGA TOUR last season was 124 mph generated by Bubba Watson. His fastest swing of the year was 127 mph.
Long drive athletes train and prepare all year for the chance to take a swing at becoming the World Long Drive Champion. Specialized training allows long drive athletes to generate maximum ball and swing speeds, and focus solely on maximizing distance during competition. The golf equipment used in Long Drive competition conforms to regulations for all golfers set forth by the United States Golf Association.