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56-for-56: Adam Long hits every fairway at World Wide Technology

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First player with 100% driving accuracy in TOUR event since 1992

    Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin

    Adam Long hit every single fairway at this week’s World Wide Technology Championship.

    Yes, the fairways were generous for the most part. No, he doesn’t plan to use it as currency against Tiger Woods, designer of El Cardonal at Diamante (who has pockets full of trump cards to retort if needed, Long notes.)

    Still, Long went 14-for-14 each day, 56-for-56 in total, with his 9-degree TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver. He becomes the first player to hit every fairway in a TOUR event since 1992 (Brian Claar, the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday).

    “It’s something I’ll be able to say forever,” Long said, “some sort of bragging rights or an interesting stat at trivia nights.”

    Two players missed just one fairway for the week (Paul Haley and Troy Merritt), with 11 more going 54-for-56. But that didn’t mean hitting fairways was a given – the tournament swung on a missed fairway after all, as Matt Kuchar pulled his tee shot at the par-4 15th hole Saturday into dense brush left of the fairway, leading to a quadruple bogey (he ultimately finished runner-up, two back of Erik van Rooyen). Camilo Villegas, who shared second place with Kuchar, found the thicket on the par-5 14th hole Sunday, turning a docile hole into an ultimately remarkable par, when he could have otherwise likely reached the green in two shots.

    Even when the fairways are wide, finding the fairway still matters. Long has frequented the top fifth of the TOUR in driving accuracy throughout his career, and although he knows the stat isn’t everything – “I’d rather hit 72 greens,” he quipped – he certainly puts an emphasis on keeping the ball in play. He’s not a bomber, which means he better be straight off the tee. “You can’t be short and crooked,” he noted, borrowing a favorite line of Fred Funk, historically one of professional golf’s most accurate drivers (who won the inaugural World Wide Technology Championship in 2007, albeit on a different course.)

    “If you’re going to be short-to-average length, you need to be pretty accurate to survive out here on TOUR,” Long said. “It’s something that I take pride in, that I do … it is something that I pay attention to and work hard on.”

    Long didn’t do any specific driver-related work early in the week in Cabo, but he has been keying on rotating his upper body and lower body together through the ball, which translated as he kept the ball in play for 72 holes at El Cardonal – while hitting driver off the tee on most holes. He finished the week T23 at 17 under, improving five spots to No. 138 on the FedExCup Fall standings as he fights to crack the top 125 across the next two events and retain exempt TOUR status for 2024. (As winner of The American Express in 2019, he’ll always have Past Champion status at minimum.)

    The savvy veteran admits that the fairways stat entered his mind as he arrived at the final hole of the week, a reachable par 5 with a bunker down the left side. His tee shot drifted slightly left, and the sight lines kept him from knowing where his ball came to rest until he arrived in the fairway.

    Later in the day, contender Justin Suh’s tee shot trickled into the same bunker. Long, though, stayed just short.

    “I was like, ‘Ahh come on, don’t make it the last one! It’s alright to miss one, but don’t make it the very last hole!’” Long laughed afterward. “So we get over the crest, maybe 100 yards before the ball, and it’s sitting right in front of the bunker and it was mine. It hung on for dear life. It was only a few feet from going into that bunker.”

    Those few feet made a piece of history.

    Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.

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