With his brute power and long hits, Bryson DeChambeau may have changed the way people look at golf

DeChambeau broke everyone's beliefs and concepts with his bulked-up physique and power hitting, and on Sunday after the first few holes, didn’t even give a semblance of a chance to anyone to win his maiden major.

V Krishnaswamy September 22, 2020 10:40:05 IST
With his brute power and long hits, Bryson DeChambeau may have changed the way people look at golf

Bryson DeChambeau won his maiden major on Sunday. Image courtesy: AP

Twenty years ago, Tiger Woods changed the way people saw and thought about golf. He brought in extreme fitness and then came the likes of Dustin Johnson, a golfer who could compete with any athlete in any sport in terms of athleticism.

Now Bryson DeChambeau has added power to that. An extra 40 pounds of muscle courtesy a 6000-calories-a-day diet and his power-filled smash-and-pound tactics on the golf course. His body looked like an American NFL player and so different from the kinds we see on a golf course.

On Sunday he won his first Major, the US Open, and by a Tiger-like margin of six shots and was the only guy to shoot under par for four days.

DeChambeau is no ordinary champion. He is different in every which way – all his irons are the same length; he does not bend his left arm and has a single plane swing, which is very powerful and makes for a weird picture. He wants every bit of information – atmospheric pressure, dew, wind, and even the sap in the grass and whatever else you can think. He processes all that as a computer would and sometimes takes a little more than the 40 seconds allowed for each shot. That even classified him as a ‘slow player’. But after his US Open performance at Winged Foot, no one can say anything. And, yes, he is also not afraid to say or do what he thinks.

This is the essence of the Bryson DeChambeau Manual. He has not quite written the manual, but he has been talking about it alright.

He was already bulked up when he came to Dubai early this year. Then when he went into the lockdown, he added more muscle. When he emerged during the ‘Return to Golf’ he showed off a ‘massive’ body, which made fit athletes look puny.

For some time, no one really felt he could do it – that is to hit the daylights out of a golf ball, hit his way out of rough and trouble, and find the green to putt it out and win. It sounded simple to DeChambeau, but not to others.

Golf was not meant to be played like that. You needed to work around the course – they called it course management. But DeChambeau had his own way. On Sunday, he won the US Open using ‘his’ methods with a body bulked up on protein shakes and juicy steaks and smashed the golf ball as far as he could.

With his brute power and long hits Bryson DeChambeau may have changed the way people look at golf

US' Bryson DeChambeau plays his shot from the fourth tee during the final round of the US Open Golf Championship. Image courtesy: AP

DeChambeau did not wait for anyone else to say it. Others may have been murmuring about it, but he articulated it in the public, as he said, “I think I'm definitely changing the way people think about the game. Now, whether you can do it, that's a whole different situation. There's a lot of people that are going to be hitting it far.”

DeChambeau shot 3-under 67 in the final round for a total of 6-under 274 and his six-shot winning margin over the prodigious Matthew Wolff (75) put to rest the debate on his methods and strategy.

Wolff, 21, hoping to join 23-year-old Collin Morikawa, as a Major champion, shot 75 and totalled even par. He was second, still a great result in his second Major, after being Tied-4th at his Major debut – where Morikawa won - last month.

Wolff was hoping to become the first US Open rookie to win the title since 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet in 1913, missed out after being outplayed by DeChambeau.

Louis Oosthuizen (73) ended third at 2-over and Harris English suffered a lost ball on his opening hole, but recovered to finish fourth and Xander Schauffele, added to his collection of fine results at big events by finishing fifth. Dustin Johnson, who seemed unbeatable after his FedExCup triumph, was Tied-6th with Will Zalatoris. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau, and Zach Johnson were Tied-8th at 6-over 286.

Tiger Woods, who 15-20 years ago changed the way people looked at golf in the 1990s and 2000s, exited early as did Phil Mickelson, who has time and again admitted that Woods had been an inspiration for him, too. Woods has not decided where he will play next, but Zozo at Sherwood, Masters at Augusta, the two events where he will defend his titles, and his own Hero World Challenge at Albany are likely starts. As for Mickelson, he has the option of the Champions Tour (Over 50s) besides the Masters, which he has three times, but all in April.

Rory McIlroy, no slouch when it comes to hitting distances, said, “I don't really know what to say because that's just the complete opposite of what you think a U.S. Open champion does. Look, he's found a way to do it. Whether that's good or bad for the game, I don't know, but it's just not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It's kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.” DeChambeau hit just 23 fairways for the week and that translates to 41 percent.

On his long hitting and the generation that is coming up, DeChambeau added, “Matthew (Wolff) was hitting it plenty far today. A couple of putts just didn't go in for him and kept the momentum on my side. So he's definitely got the firepower and the strength to do it. You've got to be looking out for him in the future. There's a lot of young guns that are unbelievable players, and I think the next generation that's coming up into golf hopefully will see this and go, hey, I can do that too.”

Wolff, one among the bunch of amazing youngsters to have hit the world golfing scene, said of DeChambeau, “He played really well. I was just told that there's a lot of people in here saying what he's doing is pretty exceptional. To watch it first hand, I have to agree. I feel like I played really well, and that's the difference out here between 4 over and 4 under is just those little tiny breaks that I didn't get.”

As Wolff kept waiting for the breaks, DeChambeau broke everyone else’s beliefs and concepts, and on Sunday after the first few holes, he didn’t even give a semblance of a chance to anyone.

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