Justin James Wins Diamond in the Desert at Mesquite NV
May 24, 2021
Genetically programmed for competition, Justin James is well known for the snapping turtle head cover that protects his micro milled, forged Beta-Titanium KRANK Formula X driver. On Sunday, James out distanced the field at the Pro Long Drivers Association’s Diamond in the Desert, a PLDA qualifying event held in Mesquite, NV. The 2017 RE/MAX World Long Drive Champion and son of two-time Senior World Long Drive Champion Gerry James, advanced out of the Round of Sixteen with a drive of 384 yards along with South Korean long driver Hun Young Jung at 373 yards.
As the morning head wind settled over the Mesquite Sports Complex, James carded a 406-yard blast in the opening Round of Eight “3-and-3” match play to eliminate Jung (402 yards). Also advancing to the semi final rounds of the Open Division were Drew Cooper (388 yards) over Rob Tiettmeyer (371 yards), Colton Casto (398 yards) over fellow West-Coast long driver Press Labrie (386 yards), and Reid Russell (418 yards) over Ryan Riesbeck (388 yards).
Rookie Reid Russell Making a Name on PLDA Tour
A true rookie to the sport of golf, Texan Reid Russell is already making a name for himself on the Professional Long Drivers Association tour. The former Longview Lobo baseball standout was a homerun hitter in high school and college before being selected by the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. As the Southland Conference “Hitter of the Year”, Russell earned a spot in the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby before a brief pro career in the Minors. Definitely a long ball hitter, Russell had the longest drive of the weekend at 428 yards before advancing out of Saturday’s consolation round. Congratulations also go to Scottie Pearman who advanced out of winner’s bracket with a drive of 402 yards. Both Pearman and Russell have punched their ticket to compete in the PLDA World Championship at Mesquite Sports Complex on September 22 – 29.
Grid Measurement Decides Semi Final Round
In the Open Division Semi Final Round, officials had to call for a Grid Measurement to verify a Colton Casto victory with a winning distance of 380 yards to Russell’s 379-plus yards. Although Colton Casto was named to the USA Long Drive Team last year to compete in International Team Play, his appearance in the final round at Diamond in the Desert was his first in PLDA world long drive competition. Nonetheless, the day belonged Justin James. As the Florida pro stepped on the tee box to hit his sixth ball in the Semi Final Round, he needed to beat a 381-yard drive that Drew Cooper had already posted. James liked his final shot the minute it left the club face but a scary rollout of 401 yards ended up just inches from the out-of-bounds marker. However, it was more than enough for James to advance. In the Final Round, James posted a 372-yard drive to out distance Casto’s 367-yard blast and take home the winner’s share of the prize money in the Open Division.
David Mobley's Hot Streak Continues at Crush the Canyon
Ryan Gerhart, who was making his debut as a senior long driver at the PLDA’s Diamond in the Desert qualifying event, posted a 363-yard blast as the drive to beat. Although David Mobley was scrambling at first to beat the mark set by Gerhart, the seasoned veteran connected on a 377-yard drive to advance to the Final Round. In the other bracket of the Semi Final Round, E.J. McDonnell laid claim to the longest drive in the Senior Division at 385-yards to eliminate Vincent Ciruluini (334 yards). As the desert winds began to gust, Mobley stepped to the tee box for the Seniors Final. Having won the Masters Division, the Seniors Division, and the Super Seniors Division at Crush the Canyon (a World Championship Qualifier for Jeff Critenden’s Xtreme Long Drive Series), Mobley wasted little time and blasted a 356-yard drive to set the bar. With a strong wind in his face, E.J. came up four yards short at 352 yards giving Mobley the win.
PLDA - The Mile High on June 11 – 13 at Big Foot Turf Farm in La Salle, CO