Bryson DeChambeau reached in his bag at the par-5, sixth hole and grabbed an iron.
Yes, an iron. That’s not a typo. There was a moan and then a groan because the fans – yes, there are fans this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – had come to see the reigning U.S. Open let the big dog eat.
DeChambeau laughed, as if saying, “Just messing with you,” and switched to his driver. In many ways, this moment encapsulated DeChambeau’s game since winning the U.S. Open in September. Golf’s strong man has been toying with us, recording just two top-10 finishes in his last six starts and missing the cut two weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational. He shot 77-64 in the first two rounds last week at the WGC-Workday Championship. The Incredible Bulk has been incredibly ordinary of late.
DeChambeau already validated his unorthodox efforts to beef up and chase distance, but the question remains: Will it be sustainable and will continued success lead to a generation of shake-chugging, iron-pumping golfers following his example? Too soon to say, but a slightly slimmed-down DeChambeau delivered the type of performance in Thursday’s opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational that suggested he may be finding his stride. The World No. 11-ranked player carded six birdies and posted 5-under 67 at Bay Hill Club and Lodge to trail Rory McIlroy by one stroke.
Arnold Palmer Invitational: Leaderboard
“I’ve always played pretty well off of a few weeks in a row in tournaments,” DeChambeau said. “I’ll kind of gain some momentum normally and I hope this is just the start.”
Starting on the back nine, DeChambeau rolled in a 12-foot birdie at No. 10, but gave it back one hole later, missing a 3-foot par putt, for his lone bogey of the day.
“Haven’t done that in a long time and I guess I was due for it, I don’t know,” said DeChambeau of missing a shortie and noting he didn’t feel comfortable with his putter.
He bounced back at No. 12, sinking a 6-foot birdie putt and then showed off why distance is king these days on the PGA Tour. He bashed his tee shot 340 yards into the left rough at No. 15, but no worries. It’s easier hitting a wedge from the rough than a 6-iron from the fairway at the elite level and DeChambeau flicked a wedge from the spinach inside 2 feet for a kick-in birdie.
DeChambeau turned in 34 and strung together three birdies in a row beginning at the par 5, fourth hole coming home. That included a rather routine birdie at the par-5 sixth despite not going for the green off the tee.
“On 4 it was kind of straight into the wind, I’m like, ‘Man, it may be possible if the wind kind of flips a little bit,’ ” DeChambeau said. “It was just too much off of the right and more into the wind than anything.”
He also said that the current Cobra driver he’s using has a heavier head that he’s switched to for more control.
“I had to rein it back a little bit, we’re working on some, hopefully some new technology in the next couple weeks that will help mitigate some of those speed, interesting speed issues that we have,” he said.
What if he had been using his previous model?
“I totally could have done it today,” he said.
DeChambeau still is hopeful that the conditions will dictate a green light to try to drive the sixth green.
“If it’s more downwind I’ll be able to do it tomorrow, hopefully, or some time during the weekend,” he said.
But, for the first time, DeChambeau also added a caveat, declaring he may not go directly for the green, but rather target an area 30-40 yards right of the green and short of a bunker.
“Look, all I’m looking for is 10 miles an hour downwind and I’ll be definitely going left,” he said.
Bring it on, Bryson. This we’ve got to see.
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/03/04/bay-hill-bryson-dechambeau-hitting-bombs-67/