“I’m looking at it as a par–67 for me because I can reach all the par-5s in two, no problem. If the conditions stay the way they are, that’s what I feel like par is for me. That’s not me being big-headed. I can hit it as far as I want to.”
That was the pre-tournament assessment of a bullish Bryson DeChambeau last November before Augusta National chewed up, and spat out, the US Open champion. Two-under par for four rounds, or 18-over by his own calculations, Bryson was left looking rather foolish in a share of 34th when his best laid plans blew up in his face.
It might’ve been humble pie and protein shakes for dinner that week in Georgia but DeChambeau’s form of 2021 should make for another interesting sub-plot to the year’s first Major.
Already a winner this season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where DeChambeau’s demolition of the par-5s at Bay Hill was there for all to see, the world number 5 will unleash his power upon Augusta once more this April, and perhaps the fiery, warmer conditions will better suit the 28-year old whose best Masters finish remains a tied-21st result as an amateur in 2016.
Whatever happens, the evolution of Bryson DeChambeau continues to have the whole world talking. Not only have the R&A and USGA reacted by taking their first steps towards curbing distance advancements on Tour, but even the game’s best players, notably our own Rory McIlroy, has attempted to change his swing in the pursuit of swing speed, a direct result of Bryson’s US Open win at Winged Foot.
Paul McGinley said he could understand McIlroy copying DeChambeau. Professional golfers are like sheep, according to the former Ryder Cup captain. Such a comparison couldn’t be levelled at DeChambeau, however. He compares himself to those most mere mortals dare not:
“You look at trends in humanity and most like following the norm,” DeChambeau says. “But you’ve also got people like Einstein and George Washington; they stood out and capitalised on their differences and showed the world a little different side.”
DeChambeau’s ability extends much further than a long drive circus act but should he take on Augusta and, this time, succeed – making a mockery of the intentions of the original design team in the process – then it might just be the single biggest contributing factor to the distance debate finally being settled and technology getting rolled back once and for all.