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How Jeff Hart copes with hitting 250-yard drives at the PGA Championship

Jeff Hart tees off the fourth hole during the first round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf in April 2016.
(Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

There’s a lot of buzz in the golf world about Bryson DeChambeau beefing up by 40 pounds and punishing the ball with average drives of 323.8 yards.

But what’s it like trying to survive on the other end of that spectrum?

Consider Jeff Hart of Solana Beach, a two-time All-American at USC back in the 1970s who has bounced around the PGA, Nationwide and Champions tours. He was in the first group to tee off Thursday morning at the PGA Championship at Harding Park, and averaged 252.9 yards on his first two drives.

That would be more than respectable at your local country club, but in this field? A bunt.

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It’s been a straight path for Collin Morikawa, from college standout at California and the game’s No. 1-ranked amateur to the rarefied air of golf’s elite.

“On the longer par-fours, I’m trying to roll the ball up, and I think I hit five or six drivers off the fairway just trying to roll them up on these long par-fours,” said Hart, 60. “I played with Brian Harmon and C.T. Pan, and they’re 50 yards longer than I am, and they’re probably short for a tour player, and they’re coming in with mid-irons. It’s just a whole different ballgame.”

Hart was one under par after four holes, but had eight bogeys in the final 13 holes to shoot a 77.

“Hitting the ball as short as I do, there was no hope for me shooting under par or even near par,” he said. “Probably one or two over would have been like 67 or something for the tour players.”

Still, he didn’t seem overly upset about his day and understood from the start the deck was stacked against him.

“It’s like pitching in the in the major leagues with a 60-mile-an-hour fastball,” he said. “They’re teeing off on you, basically.”


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