Taking a Flyer: Loyola’s Smith snags stunning Long Drive championship

UNLIKELY WINNER:  Seeded eighth, Loyola College Prep alumnus Jack Smith swept through the final three rounds Monday and claimed the World Long Drive golf championship.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

When Jack Smith was a sophomore at Loyola, he was voted as “Most Likely to Become President.” Whether he lives up to that remains to be seen, but in the meantime, he’s got another title to handle: World Long Drive Champion.

The 23-year-old, who postponed medical school to go on the World Long Drive Tour, was seeded No. 8 in Monday’s event in Kingsport, Tenn., but took down three challengers in the championship round.

Smith, a rookie on the Long Drive Tour and playing in only his fourth event, had the longest drive of any competitor in all three rounds – 389 in the quarterfinals, 403 in the semifinals and 401 in the finals.

Of the 84 balls that were hit on the final day, only three measured longer that 400 yards.

Smith hit all three.

In the final round, Smith defeated No. 2 seed Kyle Berkshire, who had a drive of 388 yards that Smith had to beat. With three drives remaining, Smith did just that with a 401-yard drive. Berkshire couldn’t match that with his final three drives.

Smith, who earned $30,000 for the victory, said the win was a little surprising since he was coming off a forearm injury.

“I went home last week and did some extra PT (physical therapy) and I tried some new stuff and it was the first time my arm didn’t hurt,” Smith told Golf Channel, which telecast the event. “I got a couple of practice sessions in and usually I’m just trying to figure it out the day of (the event). To me it made all the difference. I was just fortunate enough to pull through in the end.”

Smith, a 2018 graduate of Loyola, was down to his last drive on Sunday to try to make it to the final eight. He had to beat a 373-yard drive and hit one 380 to qualify for Monday’s finals.

The next event on the WLD Tour is in Oceanside, Calif., in late September.

Contact JJ at johnjamesmarshall@yahoo.com