DeChambeau's deadly distance threatens to humble Masters

Jim SLATER
·4-min read
US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, left, bumps fists with reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods, hoping the 15-time major winner will be placing a green jacket around his shoulders on Sunday at the Masters
US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, left, bumps fists with reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods, hoping the 15-time major winner will be placing a green jacket around his shoulders on Sunday at the Masters

Bryson DeChambeau enters the Masters hitting balls further and straighter than he did in winning the US Open, threatening to overpower Augusta National with his ball-blasting style.

World number six DeChambeau, who crushed Winged Foot in September in winning his first major title, said Tuesday he hasn't decided about using a 48-inch driver but sees no limit to where his approach might take golf.

"I have no idea where the endgame is on this," he said. "I've only seen improvements in strength increase. I've felt better every day.

"I'm hitting it further than the US Open and I'm trying a driver this week that may help me hit it even a little bit further, so we'll see."

The 27-year-old American loves what he sees from his latest experiment in driving power, but it might be too soon to debut with a green jacket at stake.

"I'm not 100% sure if I'll put it in play yet just because of the unknown," DeChambeau said. "But if it's an improvement if every facet of launch conditions, then I don't see why not."

After testing four versions of the maximum-length shaft, DeChambeau's latest "looks really promising."

"I had 4-5 mph in ball speed increase. I got my swing speed up to 143-144 mph on the range."

That translates into re-routing paths to the holes at Augusta, aided by the absence of spectators due to the Covid-19 pandemic opening up certain areas for shots.

"This is a unique opportunity," he said. "I'm going to be able to hit it on certain lines where patrons would be, and I feel like that it does provide me a little bit of an advantage."

DeChambeau has been about distance and position without regard to rough and Augusta National's rough has never been deep or dense enough to discourage long drivers.

He hits the ball over a left fairway bunker at 18 into where spectators would be watching. The 350-yard par-4 third green is reachable off the tee for him. He figures to get within 70 yards of the green off the first tee even if predicted rain softens the course.

"Even in wet conditions, I'm able to get it up that close to the green," he said of the 445-yard hole.

He needs only wedges or short irons into most greens, wedges into the 11th and par-5 13th at famed Amen Corner thanks to his ability to soar over the trees far enough to avoid landing in pine straw.

"I cut the corner drastically," he said of 13. "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."

- Making putts is payoff -

DeChambeau, whose 10 top-10 finishes in 2020 include a July win at Detroit as well as the US Open, will be charting hole locations in his greens book to set up his putting, the crucial payoff to his ball-bashing strategy.

"I can hit it as far as I want to, but it comes down to putting and chipping out here," he said.

"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 US Open.

"It always comes down to making the putts at the end of the day."

That means a lot of time on greens before Thursday.

"We know somewhat where the pins are going to be. I'm going to try and really get comfortable with those areas," DeChambeau said.

"I still go based off of my intuition most of the time. The times where I've putted best have been where my intuition is matched up with reality."

DeChambeau feels a great success after proving his strategy and style can win major titles.

"It's like I've already gotten that under the belt and let's see how many more I can get," he said.

The perfectionist says he could have a profound impact of golf with a win this week.

"I think people would realize that hitting it farther is definitely an easier way to play the game," he said.

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