THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Under the bright lights of the World Long Drive Championship, one of the circuit’s biggest stars shined the brightest.
Tim Burke of Orlando, Fla., blasted a 394-yard piercing drive through an Oklahoma crosswind to top Jeremy Easterly and take home his second World Long Drive title belt in three years as his personal cheering section roared from the stands.
“I just wanted to make sure I put a good golf swing on it … and I hit it pretty good,” Burke said shortly after claiming his $150,000 first-place prize. “I got dedicated this year, got a little better golf swing, learned how to handle the pressure a little better and everything came together tonight.”
Burke, 29, wasted no time getting to the championship round, bombing drives of 401 and 403 yards on his first attempts in the quarterfinals and semis to roll past Justin Young and Will Hogue, respectively. Each time he asked his fans for help before, during and after his turn. And each time, they delivered.
“It’s awesome; they were at the first one, too. It’s the best, just having a little section, it makes me feel comfortable and able to let go,” Burke added.
Easterly, for his part, said he was “speechless” just making it to the final. The 38-year-old beat out the only other two-time winner of this event in the field, superstar Jamie Sadlowski, in the semifinals.
After registering a 380-yard drive, Easterly watched as Sadlowski couldn’t manage to find the grid, hitting ball after ball out of bounds, even switching drivers halfway through his turn and frantically jumping off the stage to find a tee to hit his final ball before time ran out.
“It hurts a little bit when you beat yourself and not hit a good shot in, but that’s life,” Sadlowski said. “It’s hard. Maybe I took those first two world championships for granted, maybe I didn’t enjoy them enough to realize how hard this is. Falling short, it hurts.”
But in the end, Burke put an end to Easterly’s Cinderella run. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound fan favorite proved to be too much.
“He’s a great competitor, you’ve got to give him everything you got and it still may not be enough," said Easterly, who came up eight yards short in the final. “I hit a good ball, not a great ball, but he’s got a lot of horsepower and he can put a good number up.”
That number Easterly refers to may be something long drivers are chasing for a long time to come, because Burke is already looking ahead.
“I was definitely hungry to get No. 2 after last year. I just worked really hard this year. I feel blessed and I’m just going to keep it rolling,” Burke said while surrounded by friends and family on stage. “I’m in an elite club and I’d like to get Nos. 3, 4 and 5.”
So, rest of the long-drive world, consider this your official notice - this may only be the beginning of the Tim Burke Era.