See how the PGA Tour’s driving distance leaders have skyrocketed since 1980

Bryson DeChambeau hits a drive down the fairway.

Bryson DeChambeau, pictured above, is currently leading the PGA Tour in 2020 with 323 yards driven per shot on average.

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There’s nothing more captivating than being cooped up in front of your television, watching with listless anticipation as a golfer steps up to the tee and, with all their force, strikes the ball and sends it screaming into oblivion. The smack, whoosh, and fizz of the ball all merge into a beautifully synchronized chorus. GOLF.com has tracked the players, since 1980, who led the PGA Tour in driving distance — and picked out the most interesting storylines, most dominant runs, and most unusual tidbits.

1980: Dan Pohl, 274.3 yards

We begin our journey in 1980, with Dan Pohl, otherwise known as the “Pohlcat.”  Pohl led the tour in driving with a respectable 274.3-yard average and accruing over 51,000 yards driven. Pohl, unfortunately, would not pick up a win on Tour in 1980 — or ’81, when he led the Tour again in driving distance with 280.1 yards. However, the Pohlcat’s place in golf’s distance history can never be questioned. 

1981: Dan Pohl, 280.1

1982: Bill Calfee,  275.3

1983: John McComish, 277.3

1984: Bill Glasson, 276.5

1985: Andy Bean, 278.2

1986: Davis Love III, 285.7

1987: John McComish, 283.9

1988: Steve Thomas, 284.6

1989: Ed Humenik, 280.9

1990: Tom Purtzer, 279.6

The Decade of Daly

From 1980-1989, eight different golfers led the Tour in driving distance. From 1990-1999, there were only three — and for eight of those years, Daly was the top dog in the clubhouse. The enigmatic Daly — known for his long backswing, erratic play, and aversion to typical golf wardrobe selections — was truly groundbreaking in his driving distance accomplishments. In 1997, he was the first golfer ever to average more than 300 yards per drive — beating out a 22-year-old Tiger Woods, who finished with 294.8. Daly would last lead the Tour in distance driven in 2002, he continued to place near the top until 2007, where he posted a 312.9-yard average. There’s no question about it: John Daly is the king of driving distance.

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John Daly and Tiger Woods share a laugh in 2005.

An unbelievable John Daly shot once ‘freaked out’ a 13-year-old Tiger Woods

By: Josh Berhow

1991: John Daly, 288.9

1992: John Daly, 283.4

1993: John Daly, 288.9

1994: Davis Love III, 283.8

1995: John Daly, 289

1996: John Daly, 288.8

1997: John Daly, 302

1998: John Daly, 299.4

1999: John Daly, 305.6

2000: John Daly, 301.4

2001: John Daly, 306.7

2002: John Daly, 306.8

Kuehne unseats Daly, in style

John Daly had complete control over the title of the PGA Tour’s driving distance leader for eight consecutive years until Hank Kuenhe burst onto the scene. While Kuenhe’s best tournament finish in 2003 was T-2 at the Shell Houston Open, he completely blew the previous driving record out of the water. Kuehne averaged 321.4 yards, almost 15 more yards than the previous record (set by Daly in 2002). 

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2003: Hank Kuehne, 321.4

2004: Hank Kuehne, 314.4

2005: Scott Hend, 318.9

2006: Bubba Watson, 319.6

2007: Bubba Watson, 315.2

2008: Bubba Watson, 315.1

2009: Robert Garrigus – 312

2010: Robert Garrigus, 315.5

2011: J.B Holmes, 318.4

2012: Bubba Watson, 315.5

2013: Luke List, 306.3

2014: Bubba Watson, 314.3

2015: Dustin Johnson, 317.7

2016: J.B Holmes, 314.5

2017: Rory McIlroy, 317.2

2018: Rory McIlroy, 319.7

2019: Cameron Champ, 317.9

Bryson’s dominance

Since 2003, no golfer has been able to best Kuenhe’s illustrious record. Until Bryson DeChambeau in 2020. The five-time PGA Tour winner has undergone a highly publicized body transformation, gaining over 20 pounds in muscle in the past three months alone. As GOLF.com’s Kevin Cunningham noted, “the purpose of his body transformation is simple; DeChambeau is trying to get as strong as possible to hit a golf ball as far as possible.”

So far, it’s paying off. Not only is DeChambeau currently breaking the Tour record for distance driven — 323 yards — but he is consistently smashing the ball over 400 yards. However, most importantly, DeChambeau is winning; DeChambeau recently won the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a score of 23 under.

2020: Bryson DeChambeau, 323*

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Golf.com Editor