AUGUSTA (AFP) – Bryson DeChambeau proved his long driving strategy could bring major success by winning the United States (US) Open. Now he wants to see if a Masters green jacket fits his bulked-up physique.
The 27-year-old American, who proved superior distance without regard for accuracy could be a winning strategy, brings his long-driving style to Augusta National, known for rewarding distance by shunning punitive deep rough in favor of lightning-fast undulating greens.
“When I’m playing great golf I feel like I’ve got a great chance to win every week,” DeChambeau said.
“When I’m playing well and I feel like I have my golf swing under control and putting well, making a lot of putts, I feel like I can shoot low on a lot of golf courses and usually that wins tournaments.”
Since adding weight and muscle during the US PGA’s COVID-19 shutdown from March to June, DeChambeau won at Detroit, shared fourth at the PGA Championship and won the US Open in September at Winged Foot by six strokes – a victory that threatened to be a game-changer for golf.
When a player can blast into the rough, wedge onto the green and putt for birdie, why worry with fairways? Why seek short birdie putts when you might produce eagle chances?
“They’re never going to be able to take away athleticism,” DeChambeau said. “And I don’t know the situation that would hinder my performance with the added length.”
So how could anyone Bryson-proof a course?
“I certainly wouldn’t make it longer. That’s only going to give me a bigger advantage,” he said. “Without giving too much away, I would definitely say that you almost can’t.
“I’m not saying that in a cocky manner at all. I’m just saying it’s difficult to control length.
“At the same point, it’s also about putting, chipping, wedging – you still got to do everything else really well.”
DeChambeau chases golf perfection, tinkering with equipment, strategy and muscle mass in quest of an ultimate success.
“I’m always thinking about how I can get better and I think that’s what’s so cool about this game is it’s never perfect – you always can find something to be a little bit better,” DeChambeau said.
“I never will reach it. I totally submit to that. But I do want to try and find distinct advantages that allow me to be better and better each and every time I play. Clearly it has helped. I think there has been a big change this year and I’m not going to stop.”
DeChambeau has talked of unveiling a 48-inch maximum-length driver at the Masters, compared to the usual 44-45-inch shafts.
“I’m looking forward to trying to put in a 48-inch driver and see what opportunities it will present,” he said. “There’s a lot of advantages to having a 48-inch driver and being able to keep it in play. Still need to get some things worked out, but so far it has been pretty amazing.”
DeChambeau was hitting over a driving range fence 350 yards away last month at Las Vegas. Two weeks ago, he tweeted that he had reached a 211-mph ball speed and 401.3 yards of carry with a driver that wasn’t even the 48-incher.
Phil Mickelson, a 50-year-old winner of three green jackets, plans to use a 47-and-a-half-inch driver, saying, “There is the ability to attack a number of holes if you can fly the ball a little bit farther.”
With so many options to the size and weight of clubheads and shaft lengths, DeChambeau was asked how many drivers he would test before he Masters. “As many as I need to,” he said.
“From a speed training perspective I could probably go upwards of over 1,000 to probably 2,000 drives… trying to get my speed up. It takes around 100, 130 to have a good speed training.”
DeChambeau enjoys the ball-bashing as he searches for the perfect combination.
“I think it’s the most fun,” he said. “I watched ‘Happy Gilmore’ a little while ago, and it just re-inspired me to try and hit it as far as possible.”
That film ended with the title character winning a jacket. If DeChambeau can do the same, it might be another example of fantasy becoming reality.