DeChambeau plans month away from competition before Masters

NORTH LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau has taken some unusual routes in his career, from his single-length clubs to bulking up in an effort to swing as hard as he can. Add to the list his decision to take a month off without competition leading to the Masters.

The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last week, where DeChambeau tied for eighth, is his only tournament between winning the United States (US) Open on September 20 and playing the first round of the Masters on November 12.

So much for trying to use tournaments to peak for the majors.

DeChambeau figures he has gone down this road before. He mentioned the three months golf was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When he returned at Colonial, he was bigger and stronger and his club speed was faster. He missed a playoff by one shot. He followed with a pair of top 10s. And then he won the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

“As I look back at quarantine, I felt like I came back really well not playing any golf, not doing anything,” DeChambeau said. “I feel like my game is good enough right now to do that. I don’t feel like there is going to be a problem coming back. We’ll see how it works out for me. I have no idea, but I feel comfortable. And that’s all that matters for me right now.”

Bryson DeChambeau during the Shriners Hospital for Children Open golf tournament in Las Vegas. PHOTO: AP

In his world, “not doing anything” is not playing tournaments. There is always work.

DeChambeau left Winged Foot with the US Open trophy and headed straight to Denver to start working out. Upon leaving Las Vegas, he plans to be in Dallas “practicing every day, working out every day and doing a lot of speed training”.

“Every other day I’ll do a speed training session trying to get my swing speed, at least with a 48-inch driver, up to 200mph on average,” he said.

The 48-inch driver, used primarily in long driving competitions, is what he hopes to bring to Augusta National, where he expects to play all the long holes (except number 10) differently than they’ve ever been played.

DeChambeau said he would take one scouting trip to Augusta National ahead of the first Masters ever held in November. He mentioned he would go with a good friend — presumably not Brooks Koepka — and “have some fun and see what I can do.”

“I’ve still got some equipment stuff coming in the next two months. That’s mainly why I’m taking it off,” he said, declining to elaborate. “I feel like the advantages that I usually have could be much improved upon with the equipment, and we don’t have it yet. But we’re diligently working on it behind the scenes.”

KO RETURN

The number one player in women’s golf, Jin Young Ko, appears to be headed back to the LPGA Tour next month.

Golfweek reported her caddie, David Booker, has confirmed Ko plans to play in the Pelican Women’s Championship in Florida on November 19-22, and then after a week off for Thanksgiving, she will play outside Dallas and then the US Women’s Open in Houston.

If she doesn’t qualify for the CME Group Tour Championship, the event has two sponsor exemptions.

Ko, who swept all the major LPGA awards last season, has not played an LPGA event since the season-ending Tour Championship last November as she rides out the COVID-19 pandemic at home in South Korea. She has played four times on the Korean LPGA, with a pair of top 10s.

ALASKA BOUND

The United States Golf Association (USGA) ticked off the 48th and 49th states where it has held championships in 2012 when it played the US Amateur Public Links in Utah and US Junior Amateur in New Hampshire. Ten years later, it will have ticked off the last one.

The USGA is taking the 60th US Senior Women’s Amateur to Anchorage Golf Course in the summer of 2022. It will be the first USGA championship for Alaska, and it will mean the USGA has held championships in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The municipal course is 6,600 yards through tree-lined fairways offering views of three mountain ranges, including Denali, the tallest peak in North America.

“To showcase to the world what sort of golf we have here in Alaska, and demonstrate both the challenge and beauty of our golf course on such a grand stage, is something we cannot wait for. The championship can’t come soon enough,” said Anchorage Golf Course General Manager Rich Sayers.

COURSES MAKE THE MAJORS

The LPGA Championship dates to 1955, so there was some resistance from veteran players when the PGA of America got involved and changed the name to the Women’s PGA Championship, with sponsorship support from KPMG. As the partnership enters its sixth year, players are starting to see the benefits, which starts with where they play.

Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia was the site this year, where Gary Player won his first PGA Championship in 1962. Hannah Green won last year at Hazeltine, which staged the US Open twice, twice denied Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship (Rich Beem in 2002 and YE Yang in 2009 outplayed him to win) and hosted a rare American victory in the Ryder Cup in 2016.

Next up is Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 1976 US Open and PGA Championships in 1981, 2001 and 2011. And then the Women’s PGA is headed to Congressional (Rory McIlroy set the US Open scoring record in 2011), followed by Baltusrol, where Jack Nicklaus won the US Open twice and Phil Mickelson won his lone PGA Championship title.

“I think we’ve moved really in a great direction to bring women’s golf to some of the best golf courses in the US, so I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” Lydia Ko said. “But just even looking down the road, we’re able to go to some of the nice golf courses where the men play, so it’s great that the female golfers can go there because it’s the best of the best.”

Golf courses make majors special. Some of the more memorable US Women’s Opens were at Oakmont twice, Newport (Annika Sorenstam’s final major) and Pinehurst number two, where Michelle Wie won the week after Martin Kaymer won the US Open. Still to come for the women is Pebble Beach for the first time.