No, that isn’t a misprint, James Hart Du Preez really did average 373.07 yards on the Sunshine Tour last year! That distance, will be on full display this week at The American Express, as the South African makes his PGA Tour debut in California.
Standing at 6’10” and weighing 260 pounds (18st 8lbs), the 26-year-old currently sits well outside the world’s top-1000 but, thanks to his 200+ mph ball speed, that looks absolutely effortless, Du Preez has become one of the main talking points ahead of the tournament. This is in a field that also includes the world number one, Jon Rahm, and six-time Major winner, Phil Mickelson.
Playing in the event on a sponsor exemption, the South African has struggled with injuries throughout his career, primarily, chronic pain and inflammation caused by an arthritic disease. However, this hasn’t stopped him from reaching swing speeds that could rival those competing in the World Long Drive Championships.
“If you look at the top 10 in the world, all of them have a massive power element to their game,” Du Preez said last year in an interview. “Being able to hit the ball as far as I do … if I can keep myself healthy enough, I’d like to think that I can achieve my goal of competing week in and week out on the PGA Tour.”
For those who follow golf on YouTube, you may have heard of Du Preez, with the 26-year-old featuring a few times on video. In one particular reel, he was actually banned from hitting driver on the golf range due to the amount of Titleist Pro V1’s being lost over the back.
A deeper look at @JamesPreez’s yardages. pic.twitter.com/86SZrBJ99iJanuary 18, 2022
Career wise, the South African has posted just four worldwide top-10’s since turning professional in 2018, with all four appearing on the Sunshine Tour. Recently, Du Preez had advanced to the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School. However, the 26-year-old would fail to qualify for the final stage.
“There were some good moments on the course and some disappointments, mainly not making it to the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour school,” he wrote on his Instagram. “But I feel more grown up, learned a ton about myself and hopeful for what lies ahead. I am currently pretty much broke, 26 years old, relying heavily on my parents for financial help and feeling under massive pressure. However, I will always rather be the man in the arena chasing my dream.
“When you hear those stories of ‘years ago I was struggling so much I did x-y or z and look where I am now,’ I am in the middle of that struggle. But it’s all part of the journey. Work, neutral attitude and a ton of faith are all you can control. My profession is cutthroat as hell, but there’s nothing I’d much rather do. Plenty time to make this the best year of my life to date.”
Teeing it up alongside Andrew Novak on Thursday at the Pete Dye Stadium Course, it’s going to be an enthralling watch to see how Du Preez tackles the layout. What is guaranteed though, is some absolute monster drives!
6’10” @JamesPreez is making his TOUR debut this week @TheAmexGolf.He led the Sunshine Tour in Driving Distance last season at 373.1 yards. 😮 pic.twitter.com/6vPa933EgXJanuary 18, 2022
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