Brian Bent

Catonsville native and Arbutus resident Brian Bent shows the backswing that helped him qualify for the Re/Max World Long Drive Championships in Las Vegas. (Staff photo by Brian Krista / October 16, 2012)

Brian Bent gave up his dream of playing professional baseball when he left the Baltimore Orioles minor league organization at the age of 22 and he started playing more golf.

Although Bent, 27, still enjoys playing rounds of golf with his friends and sinking a few birdie putts, it's his prolific drives that draws the most awe-inspiring attention.

Those long drives helped him qualify for the Re/Max World Long Drive Championships in Las Vegas, which runs from Oct. 17 through Oct. 25.

Bent, an Arbutus resident who grew up in Catonsville, will be one of 120 long drivers from all over the world, including last year's winner Carl Wolter, to compete for the title.

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In the 2011 championship finals, Wolter won with a drive of 409 yards.

Wolter eliminated 2009 and 2010 winner Jamie Sadlowski in the quarter finals, 446-443.

Bent's longest drive in competition was 420 yards in a tournament in North Carolina and he lost by three yards.

"I am just pumped," Bent said. "I am just ready to get out there."

The finals on Oct. 25 will be broadcast livestream on ESPN 3 from 5-7 p.m. and they will be aired on ESPN on Dec. 23 (2:30 p.m.) and on Dec. 25 on ESPN 2 (3:30 p.m.)

Bent can draw on his ball playing, which included two seasons with Single A Aberdeen, for comfort.

"I think pro ball experience has helped me, playing in front of 10,000 people or more," he said. "That has helped me deal with the media and the public."

Bent, drafted as a catcher in the 2005 Major League draft out of the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville, never hit a home run in two seasons at Aberdeen and was more of a defensive specialist.

Now, he attacks the golf ball with one of his six Triple X stiff shaft 49-inch drivers with the power well beyond the longest home run hitters in the game.

His maximum swing speed is 154 miles per hour and during a recent practice session on a driving range he had a registered ball speed of 205 miles per hour.

He first was introduced to long drive competition when he entered a local tournament at the Arundel Golf Club in 2010 and he won it with using his original $60 driver from his golf bag with a drive of 391 yards.

"I won it with the very last drive," he said. "I was a pretty long driver on the golf course, but I didn't know I could do that."

In competition, each golfer gets six swings and they must finish in two minutes and 45 seconds.

He qualified for the world championships after winning a last chance regional qualifier in Conneaut Lake, Pa.

He reached the double-elimination shootout and he won every round without ever facing elimination.

"I said before the event 'If I was going to make it to worlds, I'm going,'" he said. "I'm just going to make it happen. That's the top 120 hitters in the world."