Bryson: “Your putting and wedging has to be pristine”

Mark McGowan

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America via Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Bryson DeChambeau has previous experience at Pinehurst, but not in competitive mode, coming along with his Southern Methodist University teammates on excursions back in 2012 and 2013. He tried to qualify for the 2014 U.S. Open at the famed North Carolina course, but will finally get to record a measured score this week where he starts as one of the highly-fancied players in a field of 156.

“My game is in a pretty good spot,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference. “Didn’t play my absolute best last week, but I can tell you that I’m excited for the week and got some good mojo going forward.

“Looking forward to a tough test of golf out here. Pinehurst is no joke. This is a ball striker’s paradise. You have to hit it in the middle of the greens. And this is a Boo Weekley quote – ‘the center of the green never moves,’ so I’ll try to focus on that this week.”

DeChambeau won his maiden major title at Winged Foot in 2020 when his aggressive tactics off the tee allowed him to tame the typically beast-like New York course and propelled him to U.S. Open glory, but he doesn’t feel that a similar approach will work at the Donald Ross designed course.

“Well, they’re completely different golf courses,” he said. “I’d say that for the most part, you have to focus on your wedge game around the greens. You’re not going to hit every green. You’re putting and wedging has to be pristine in order to compete at this major championship and at this venue.

“Winged Foot it was a little bit of a different strategy, so most people would say it’s probably not suited best for me, I would say. But I do think I’m a pretty solid chipper and putter around the greens.

“If I get my irons in a place where I’m hitting it in the middle of the greens and just playing boring golf, that’s the goal for me this week is try to play as boring a golf as possible.”

DeChambeau arrives at Pinehurst on the back of a runner-up finish in the PGA Championship at Valhalla, forcing Xander Schauffele to birdie the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with the two-time LIV tournament winner.

“I played spectacular that week,” Bryson recalled. “I scored impeccable. I didn’t strike it as particularly well as I would have liked to, but I got fortunate in certain situations, and I capitalized with my putting being a huge asset to me that week.

“I’m just trying to get the Greenbrier feel that I had back when I shot 61-58 on the weekend, and I feel pretty close to that.

“It’s given me a lot of confidence. Valhalla has definitely given me a lot of confidence. Now it’s just time to go execute this week and get some good breaks, hopefully. And if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

“But I’m looking forward to a great challenge this week, and it’s a lot of boring golf, I can tell you. It’s definitely different than Valhalla, but I’ll try to do my best to show the crowd some fun drives and some hopefully long-made putts.”

The ‘boring golf’ he thinks may be needed to tame Pinehurst this week is, in many ways, contrary to DeChambeau’s typical approach, but in many ways a tactical approach will speak to his growing maturity as a golfer.

“Yeah, it stinks hitting a 6-iron off the tee compared to a driver,” he joked, “but sometimes you’ve got to do it and you’ve got to make the right decision for shooting the lowest score out here.

“There’s numerous holes like 3, I’d love to go for that green every single day, and I may go for it. I don’t know, you never know with me. Certainly on the tee box if it’s downwind, I’ll give it a go probably. No. 3, just hit a 6-iron out there, or 7. Hitting an iron out there and playing some very strategic golf is certainly something you have to do on this golf course to compete and win.”

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