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Wilco Nienaber takes long-drive show to the PGA Tour for the first time

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Wilco Nienaber hit a 348-yard drive on the par-5 12th during Round 1 of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree … and it didn’t rank among his top-5 longest drives of the day.

The 21-year-old South African, who leads among regulars in driving distance on the European Tour, is making his PGA Tour debut this week in South Carolina. He’s in the field for the upcoming U.S. Open and was given a sponsor exemption into this week’s event.

Nienaber earned his first European Tour win in May at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, but he’s garnered far more attention for his prodigious length, with one clocking in at 439 yards at November’s Joburg Open.

He didn’t hit that number on Thursday, but he did register five drives over 350 yards at Congaree

Nienaber led the field in driving distance on all holes in Round 1, but the only number that really counted was the final tally on his scorecard, which was a 3-under 68. He’s tied for 19th, four off the lead.