Respect him or despise him, Bryson DeChambeau cannot be ignored
Even Bryson DeChambeau could admit that he has, at times, made himself an easy target for ridicule. All those earnest lectures about fulcrums, hinge points, parabolas, coefficients of restitution of the flag? They’ve been enough to freak out even the most inveterate golf obsessives. And yet as he tasted the direction of the clubhouse at the US PGA, this confused figure was well within his rights to ask who was laughing now.
As ever with the game’s “mad scientist”, a man who had memorized Homer Kelly’s biomechanical memory The Golf Tool by the age of 16, he has taken the beautiful path to make his opinion. Since his 2020 U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot, DeChambeau has gone through a career’s worth, from a Popeye-esque bulking regime to a rude description of Augusta as a par-67, not to mention on many – spoiled to LIV Golf and self-inflicted boy rivalry with Brooks Koepka. Ignore it or hate it, you can never ignore it.
This was the case again as he engineered his way to a 66 at Oak Hill, a round that greatly re-established him as a top contender. Visibly slimmed down after realizing that a diet of endless peanut butter-and-jam sandwiches, washed down with protein shakes, was wreaking havoc with his health, he revealed a body that spoke volumes about the wisdom of cutting out refined sugars. Granted, some traces of the old Bryson remained: even when an interviewer asked him to talk about his day “in plain English”, he still launched into a long spiel about being including the force and pressure on the ulna bone in the barb. Except this time, he had the scorecard to back up the baby.
The swing looked very similar to the one with which he carved up the US Open three years ago. The drivers also flew an alarmingly long distance, just as they did when he continued his “bomb-and-gorge” strategy, hitting the ball as long as he didn’t care. more was it very rough. But there was also a change in his behavior, something that he himself carried so easily after spending all those competitions fulfilling the image of the hard look. He smiled for the galleries, looked cheerful, and didn’t go through one of his usual troubles of measuring every shot with geometric precision.
He even shouted “fore” on the 17th tee when he hit one errant drive that hit fellow player Kenny Pingman on the elbow. At least he gave fair warning this time: DeChambeau has been chastised in the past for not shouting “forward”, with Bernd Wiesberger describing his failure to do so as “terrible” and calling for a fine. She was hardly the only subject on which he was criticized, with slow play another of his cardinal sins. Koepka sometimes seems to find DeChambeau’s life in humiliation, as seen in that infamous eye roll at Kiawah Island when his nemesis walked behind him.
DeChambeau regards the hostilities with wounded surprise. Whether it’s in his YouTube videos or in his little physics lessons after the tour, he gives the impression of a man who really wants to be loved. But he now understands that he has to lower the intensity a bit. It is the myopic android who eventually leaves the driving range and is replaced by, at least on the surface, a more reflective soul.
“Like I told you guys before, I’ve been struggling with my driving,” DeChambeau said. “You’ll see me out there on the field. That’s something I don’t want I don’t want to be out there all night, but I had to figure out what made me so good before and what made me so successful then.”
Healthier body, healthier mind? From the latest evidence, it would be hard to disagree. Since taking the peptide test that confirmed he was allergic to corn, wheat, milk and almost every food he liked, DeChambeau has offered a strong advertisement for the virtues of cutting calories. Psychologically, it appears – does anyone even want to say, about such a mercurial character? – more stable.
“I just want to be consistent now,” he explained. “I’m tired of changing, trying different things. Yeah, could I hit it a little longer, could I try to be a little stronger? Yes. But I’m not going to go full force.” It will be interesting to see how long this philosophy lasts. DeChambeau has often shown himself to be an addictive personality, throwing himself into his latest passion with such work that it hurts .But he seems to be finally achieving a certain equilibrium, realizing that golf is too divine a game for even the most mathematical brain to understand.
“Golf is a strange animal,” he said. “You can never be full. As Arnold Palmer said, you think you have it one day and then it’s gone the next. I have to be careful.” Now there’s a sense that every wizened hacker could make a suggestion. DeChambeau, who has long spoken as if he were descended from some advanced alien species, is becoming almost untouchable. At this US PGA, that might just mark his most significant breakthrough yet.
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