WATCH ABOVE: Canadian Amateur Taylor Pendrith put on a long drive show in his opening round at the RBC Canadian Open en route to a 5-under 65 to sit one back of the leaders.
ILE BIZARD, Que.—There’s nothing more impressive in sports than speed and power. That’s why sports fans loved when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman threw a 105 mile per hour fastball, are amazed at the explosiveness of Usain Bolt, and are blown away by Milos Raonic’s 250 km/h serve.
And now you can add Richmond Hill, Ontario’s Taylor Pendrith to the mix. The 23-year-old played in his first PGA Tour event Thursday, teeing it up late in the afternoon at the RBC Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
The amateur who is just finishing his schooling at Kent State, started conservatively enough, pounding his first drive 309 yards. He then proceeded to take apart Royal Montreal Golf Club with a display of power golf rarely seen since “Long” John Daly showed up at the 1991 PGA Championship and overwhelmed the course by hitting drives places no one had previously considered.
Since then sports fans have always been thrilled by golfers who could hit the ball farther than ever before. For a while that was Daly, who gave way to Tiger Woods, while these days the likes of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson reside in the group that can power the ball miles in the air.
Pendrith not only belongs in that group, he’s actually longer than any of them.
Consider this: in the first round of the Canadian Open, Pendrith hit eight drives over 300 yards, including a 365-yard bomb, where he nearly drove the eighth green, and leads the field in total driving average by an astounding 14 yards. He launches the ball high into the stratosphere at an average speed of 185 miles per hour, on average four miles faster than Johnson or Watson – considered golf’s biggest hitters. And when he’s put on radar devices that track ball speed, he’s hit the ball more than 190 miles per hour on occasion.
Not bad for a kid whose parents barely played the game, and who didn’t start playing golf until he was 12. He teed it up in his first tournament three years later at the age of 15.
Now on the verge of turning pro, Pendrith put on a show off the tee at the Canadian Open that was jaw dropping. It was only bettered by the fact the twenty-something can chip and putt, finishing at 5-under in a tie for third.
“He has a second gear other golfers don’t have,” said Herb Page, his coach at Kent State who walked the golfer’s round. “And he’s just touching the surface.”
Page said when Pendrith first came to Kent State he was a raw golfer, capable of hitting hooked pitching wedges 190 yards. Page and his staff worked hard to turn Pendrith into a real golfer. When he came to Kent State he could hit the ball incredible distances, but not always straight. He left with a tidy short game, the ability to move his drives from right to left, and ranked as the 17th-best amateur in the world.
Walking with their son, Pendrith’s parents said they aren’t sure where his ability comes from. He was a good hockey player with a big slap shot. He could throw a ball well. But one day he came home and told his dad golf was his thing.
“He said, ‘Dad, I need to hit balls every day’,” said the golfer’s father, Darrel. “So I built him something that let him do it.”
That was less than 10 years ago. Now, Pendrith is turning heads on golf’s grandest scene. And he makes it all sound, well, so easy.
“I played other sports growing up, played hockey and baseball and I was just a powerful guy in both of those,” he said. “I had a pretty hard slap shot and I was a pitcher and threw pretty hard. I don’t know. It’s just natural, I guess.”
Maybe it is just natural. Maybe there’s no explanation for Pendrith’s otherworldly ability to hit a golf ball incredible distances.
Regardless, in a game that loves the long ball – and in a culture that loves faster, harder, farther – Pendrith is a Canadian with an impressive future.
© Shaw Media, 2014