Sports | January 20, 2022 12:10 pm

Long-Hitting, 6-foot-9 PGA Tour Newcomer James Hart du Preez Is Getting Lots of Attention

The 26-year-old South African averaged 373.1 yards per drive last year on The Sunshine Tour

James Hart du Preez of South Africa on the 18th hole at the Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open
James Hart du Preez of South Africa on the 18th hole at the Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open.
Luke Walker/Getty

Able to hit the ball almost 15 yards longer than his closest competitor on the Sunshine Tour with an average driving distance of 373.07 yards, South African James Hart du Preez also has a leg up on his fellow golfers in terms of height as he measures in at 6-foot-9.

Due to make his PGA Tour debut in Palm Springs at The American Express on a sponsor invitation, the 26-year-old can swing his driver more than 140 MPH but isn’t really all that polished as a golfer and ranks No. 1,319 in the world.

A cricket and water polo player in high school, du Preez turned pro in 2018 and has posted just four worldwide top-10 finishes, all on the Sunshine Tour, according to The Golf Channel.

“If you look at the top 10 in the world, all of them have a massive power element to their game,” du Preez said last year in an interview. “Being able to hit the ball as far as I do … if I can keep myself healthy enough, I’d like to think that I can achieve my goal of competing week in and week out on the PGA Tour.”

Tall as well as listed at 260 pounds, du Preez has struggled with chronic pain and inflammation caused by an arthritic disease throughout his career, but could make his tee shots appointment viewing if he is able to hit the ball nearly 400 yards on the PGA Tour the way he did on the Sunshine Tour. (To put that number in perspective, Bryson DeChambeau led the PGA Tour in 2021 at 323.7 yards per drive.)

“When people see me, obviously they don’t see 6-9 golfers come around very often so the first thing they gravitate towards is the long-hitting,” du Preez said. “For me, the goal is I hope to prove, more to myself than to anyone else, that I can play with these guys. It can be a little bit dangerous to only consider titles and winning as a measure of success. You can tick a lot of boxes along the way, and I’m just looking to tick some of those boxes this week. Being on the PGA is the goal. I think my game is very well-suited to this tour. I hit the ball a long way and I hit it very high, but that’s been my ultimate goal since I was a kid to play against the best players week in and week out.”