Congratulations, Ryan. How do you like the sound of these phrases: “2012 RE/MAX World Long Drive Champion” and “world’s longest driver”?
I love that sound! It’s a great thing to hear after all the long hours at the range and in the gym. It shows that if work at something you want, you can get it.
Talk us through that huge 393-yard drive you hit in the RE/MAX quarterfinals on your sixth ball.
It was a perfect moment for me. I actually hit the first five balls really solid, they just didn’t go down the grid. I just focused on what I had to do right and let fate handle the rest.
Before the finals started, as you looked down the range at your fellow competitors, who did you feel was your biggest threat and why?
These days, I believe there is not just one threat. We have so many incredible hitters and athletes that anyone can win at any time. I knew that the other 7 guys warming up were after the same exact thing I was, so I just focused on what I had to do to win.
How did your swing/swing thoughts change from Monday & Wednesday when you had a tail wind to Thursday when the wind was in your face?
My mind set going into worlds this year, was just to hit the ball extremely solid. When we started hitting into the wind on the final day, it was actually a lot easier for me mentally because I train in those conditions. So for me, it was just do what I can do and have fun!
Did you think you had an advantage or disadvantage with the conditions on Thursday?
I'm a ball speed guy, I don’t win with a finesse swing or beauty, Im up there to just hit it hard and catch one. So I believe I had a really good advantage hitting into the wind as long as I hit it square on the face
Are there any techniques you use to help quiet the mind and nerves of competing for a World title?
Sean Fister and I had a lengthy conversation before I started hitting. He shared so many valuable things that I never thought about. A lot of those I will keep secret until I win maybe one or two more titles, but one thing that I can share is that you have to believe in yourself. I went into the championships prepared to win. I convinced myself I was going to win before I even started.
You hit the longest ball of Championship, a 469 yard drive that hit the mesh at the back of the grid. Did you feel anything different on that swing?
I knew right when I hit it was going to be big. I set up for a fade and let it ride the wind. It was one of those balls where you look up to see it, and it was a lot farther in flight than you expected. It was awesome!
We understand you have a shoulder injury that almost prevented you from competing? Did you hit against doctors orders?
It was really scary for me because it came down to the last minute for me. Mike Ambriz who was very patient with me and very supportive, gave me a couple extra days to wait for the test results back. Once the shoulder results came back okay, I was ready to hit in worlds knowing that I couldn’t inflict any more damage to my shoulder.
Did fatigue ever set in? Physical or mental? When?
This is my first tournament ever where I had neither. Because of my shoulder, I hit very little balls warming up, and even less throughout the rounds. Usually I hit 300 drives between sets, but not this time! I do have to say there was a lot of mental fatigue in the finals because you really don’t have enough time to get yourself ready. Everything happened so fast.
How many events to you plan to compete in 2013?
My goal is to support the LDA in everything they due. I love hitting at all the LDA events and will continue to do so. I have been to every single one the last two years, and some mini tour events as well. I believe I did well at worlds because I get to hit against all these guys every month. I have to say that makes things a lot more comfortable when you tee up next to someone all the time.
What is your vision for the sport in the future? How big do you think it can get?
Maximum exposure! We have incredible talent in our sport and we owe it to the world to show them. Signing with the Golf Channel is the first step of many great things to come. One of my goals is to get Long Drive into the Olympics. We have the fastest projectile in sports, and the Olympics are a perfect fit for us. Maybe not for my generation, but for our future generations which Is most important.
Tell us about your training?
My trainer Lou Morales and I completely changed our routine this year. Its all about explosive body movements, sprints, and jumping. I also got together with Fit Golf in Sacramento which covers the physical therapy side. Lou beats me down in the gym, and Dr. James Macdonald and Greg Johnson put me back together! It’s a great but painful relationship!
Where and how did you get the nickname “manbear”? Who gave it to you?
One of my best friends, Ryan Wilkinson who complimented my mom on a good job raising a half man, half bear son! It was one of those moments where you laugh for an hour and its something Ill never forget.
What’s on the horizon?
Its all about social media! We have some groundbreaking tools coming out that we will use to change the world, both in longdrive and charity work. Also, continuing to work with Dr Rose and TPI. The knowledge and experience you get from working there is priceless. Dr. Rose has been such a huge part of my success and I wouldn’t be here without him.
What are your plans for the $150K in prize money?
Good question, I don’t really need much. I am fortunate enough to have a friend named Jack Sellers, who owns The Coke a Cola plant here in nor cal, so I get all the diet coke I can ever use!
Any shout-outs at this time?
Thank you LDA, for giving us a platform to show our talents. Art, Mike, Steve, Rod, and everybody body else who makes it happen. To my sponsors, Krank golf and Lance Reader, you are an amazing person and I value our friendship more than anything. Robert Kent, HOF. You are always there for me, no matter what goes through my head! Dan Schwabe, one of the best PGA instructors in the world, always there for me as one of my bestfriends. Dylan Smith and Alex Roberts taking care of the social media with Rainman studios. Douglas Deibel and Douglas D Creative for all the marketing, Pat Karroll, another swing coach who gives up so much for me and our team. Lou Morales, my trainer and brother, Dr James and Fit Golf for taking care of me. Mark Pederson, which none of this would of been possible without him. Don Bartlett for his unquestionable selflessness, Zuback, Fister, and Pavlet, with priceless life lessons and they taught me how to win. My mentor Vince Howell, who taught me how to be a good golf entertainer, and a better human being. To all my family who give up their freedoms and monies to help me reach my goals. I love you all and this is for you.
Enjoy your reign as world champion, Ryan.
Thank you, I will always honor and cherish the position I am in and do right by the men who have paved the road before me.