In golf, when the pressure ratchets up, it’s easy to become tense. With so much on the mind, the body tends to tighten up, thus making a routine, fluid golf swing more rigid. However, for Justin James, when the pressure was on him in the Volvik World Long Drive Championship final, he excelled.
A 50-yard wide grid was all James needed to find with one of his final four balls as Mitch Grassing, his opponent in the head-to-head final, failed to do so. Instead of bunting one down the fairway, James won the title in style.
James, 27, needed only to find the grid with one of his final four balls against Mitch Grassing, but he won in style by serving up one of the longest shots of the evening at the Winstar World Casino and Resort. With his ball still mid-flight, James watched its trajectory carefully on the big screens that lined the stage.
Once it landed in bounds, the “Snapping Turtle” threw his club high in the air and went straight for the championship belt that is now deservedly in his possession.
— World Long Drive (@WorldLongDrive) September 7, 2017
“There’s a time to celebrate,” James said. “You can’t do it too early, or you might look dumb. So you’ve got to wait.” James’ wait paid off, as he quickly scaled the wall behind the tee box to begin celebrating the biggest win of his career with his wife. It’s also his third victory of the 2017 season on the World Long Drive Tour and lifts him from No. 3 to No. 1 in the world.
James’ confidence never wavered, and when he left the stage after winning his Round of 16 match he stated simply, “I’m the best, so come get me.” The competition couldn’t keep pace in Wednesday’s finale under the lights, as James breezed past Paul Howell and Nick Kiefer to earn a spot in the finals.
“Regardless of the result, I felt like I was the best,” James said. “I try not to be too results-oriented, but honestly, there’s just so much anxiety and nerves this week because it’s such a huge event.”
James was able to breathe a little easier when Grassing was unable to find the grid with any of his eight balls in the final. He went 0-for-7 in his quarterfinal match with Wes Patterson before launching a 435-yard shot to escape with a win, but he couldn’t find similar magic with his back to the wall against James.
On the women’s side, Sandra Carlborg took home her fifth WLD title thanks to a 320-yard bomb that was enough to outlast Heather Manfredda.
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