LA QUINTA, Calif. — There’s a loud buzz around James Hart du Preez, the 26-year-old golfer from South Africa who is making his PGA Tour debut this week at The American Express.
More accurately, there is a thwack followed by oohs and aahs. That’s because du Preez is one of the longest drivers, not just in pro golf but on the planet.
Du Preez, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound wall of muscle, can hit a tee shot 400 yards. In fact, not only can he hit it that far, he dropped jaws by averaging 373.1 yards per drive last year on The Sunshine Tour, a South African pro tour.
To put that in perspective, Bryson DeChambeau led the PGA Tour last season at 323.7 yards per drive.
His combination of clubhead speed and raw power — his fastest clubhead speed is 144 miles per hour and his fastest ball speed is 212 miles per hour — has become the stuff of legend. His exploits are popular on YouTube as videos of him hitting tee shots have hundreds of thousands of views.
But he doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed as just a long-drive specialist.
“When people see me, obviously they don’t see 6-9 golfers come around very often so the first thing they gravitate towards is the long-hitting,” du Preez said. “But funny enough putting is the best part of my game and has been since I was a little kid. I didn’t grow until late in my life until about 16 or 17 so before then I never hit the ball far so I had to learn how to score chipping and putting.”
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His career got off to a slower-than-he-wanted start due to a wrist injury and multiple surgeries that followed. He turned pro in 2018, tore a ligament in his left wrist in his third start, and was out of commission for 18 months.
Du Preez is currently ranked No. 1,319 in the Official World Golf Ranking and was given a sponsor exemption into this event. He attributes the fact that he’s 26 and just now finding a groove to that late growth spurt he mentioned.
“A lot of people want to be tall, but they don’t understand the things that come with it, because your body accelerates so quickly and the forces you can generate are hard to control,” du Preez said. “My health is really good now. Since I turned about 24 years old, things have come into place, but from 15 to 24 it was pretty brutal. I could never play for more than about five months a year during that time with so many injuries. I was on and off the whole time. I’ve sort of settled into my body now and feeling great.”
For some historical perspective, du Preez will join Englishman Jon Thomson, who had a hole-in-one at the British Open last year, as the tallest player to ever play in a PGA Tour event. The tallest player to ever win a Tour event is Phil Blackmar at 6-7. The tallest player to ever win a major was George Archer, who won the 1969 Masters at 6-5 ½.
Making his Tour debut is a big moment for du Preez. As a competitor, of course
By: Shad Powers
Title: He's 6-foot-9 and can hit it 400 yards. Meet James Hart du Preez, your new favorite golfer
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2022/01/19/6-foot-9-400-yards-james-hart-du-preez-american-express/
Published Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2022 00:26:56 +0000