World number six Bryson DeChambeau insists it’s up to the rules of golf to figure out a way to stop his relentless pursuit of power as he looks to add a Green Jacket to his US Open crown. The bulked up American was on the defensive ahead of this week’s Masters, insisting there are far more strings to his bow than simply power hitting, but as long as it’s within the rules of golf, he won’t be taking the foot off the pedal in his efforts to push the game to its very limit.
“I think people would realise that hitting it farther is definitely an easier way to play the game,” he said of the main takeaway the game might have from any potential win at Augusta this week. “No matter what, athletics are always going to be the top of mind in sport, and no matter what sport you’re in. I think those are the two biggest things that people would see from this.
“I’m sure people would react to it but at the end of the day, I’m only going to play under the Rules of Golf, and I will always try and do my best to play under those rules in the best way possible. I think the golf courses are going to slowly adapt to what we are doing. And it’s going to be all defined by the rules, whatever personally the rules say is how we are going to play and how golf courses are going to be set up for the future.”
Whatever about what the future may hold, there’s no point thinking beyond this week just yet. Much of the narrative around the Masters has been dominated by the new challenge Bryson’s hitting will pose to an Augusta National layout that has long stood the test of time so what has the American been hitting into the greens during the first couple of days practice in Georgia?
“No. 3, I can get to the green,” Bryson revealed. “No. 1, if I hit it in the fairway, I can have a 70‑yard, 60‑yard shot. I guess even in wet conditions, I’m able to get it up that close to the green. No. 2, I think I had 7‑iron in the other day. And No. 5, I had 9‑iron in, 8‑iron. Yeah, it was in the wind, so it was 8‑iron that day. No. 7, this is a wedge shot. Nothing crazy. It was into the wind every day I played it. No. 8, I’ve had 6‑iron in, as little as 6‑iron in. No. 9, it’s a 53 to 48‑degree for me.
“At 10, it’s a 9‑iron at worst. 11 yesterday with Tiger and Freddie [Couples] and JT, I had pitching wedge in. I asked Tiger, I said, “What did you hit in in ’97?” And he goes, “Pitching wedge.” I’m like, “That’s cool, all right.” 13, I had pitching wedge in. I cut the corner drastically. That’s one of those where you do cut it over and you can hit it high enough and draw enough, you can gain a pretty big advantage there. 14, nothing crazy – it was into the wind. 15, 8‑iron. 17, into the wind. I hit 8‑iron, as well. Then 18, I mean, I hit it over the bunker, you can have 110 yards into the green.
“So that’s just a basic general principle of what it is. Again, I can hit it as far as I want to, but it comes down to putting and chipping out here. That is one of the things that I think people sometimes struggle to see. As much as I can gain an advantage off the tee, I still have to putt it well and chip it well and wedge it well and even iron play it well, and that’s what I did at the U.S. Open. If I don’t putt it well at The Open, if I don’t wedge it well, if I don’t hit my irons close, I don’t win that tournament. So, it always comes down to making the putts at the end of the day.”
Indeed, the theme of the press conference was so unsurprisingly focussed on DeChambeau’s rare ability to overpower a golf course that as the questions mounted about 48-inch drivers, 400-yard carries and the undoubted advantage his long game gives him, the 27-year old was quick to remind people that he’s far from a one trick pony when it comes to plotting his way around a golf course.
“There’s plenty of guys out here that don’t hit it as far as me that still contend,” DeChambeau added. “Austin Cook, the week of Shriners, he still contended. I was hitting it forever that week, and he beat me. So again, it’s not just about driving. I think people have to really truly understand that there’s still the putting aspect, wedging aspect of it.
“And obviously length helps, but there are ways to play into other players’ hands compared to me. But, again, if somebody is hitting driver off the tee and I’m hitting hybrid or 4‑iron off the tee, to hit it the same distance, that is just an advantage that I will always have. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can really do about that. From a course setup standpoint, people can try to do things, and I don’t think there’s anything we can really do anymore.”
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