- Senior golf writer for ESPN.com
- Covered golf for more than 20 years
- Earned Evans Scholarship to attend Indiana University
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bryson DeChambeau is tinkering again, trying to find the right combination to take on Augusta National this week at the Masters.
And he was coy when discussing what he might be using when the tournament begins. DeChambeau said he is working with a new driver head but was vague about any other details.
“Obviously there’s something in the bag this week that’s very helpful,” he said Tuesday. “I won’t go into specifics of it. But just know this has been a few years in the making, and I’m very excited for it. Whether it helps me perform at a higher level, I’m not sure, because it’s golf and you never know what happens.
“Definitely what I’ve seen on the driving range and what I’ve seen the last week in practice, there’s some tremendous benefits to it.”
Whatever it is, DeChambeau is certainly not new to experimentation and implementation.
Before last year’s Masters in November, he worked with a 48-inch driver shaft. As has been well documented, he has pursued added length off the tee through a weight gain program combined with fitness.
He transformed his body in 18 months and now leads the PGA Tour in driving distance. But those enhancements didn’t help him much at the November Masters, where he was among the pre-tournament favorites but had a disappointing week, tying for 34th — 18 shots behind winner Dustin Johnson.
“Given what I learned from the Masters last November, I’m going to be focusing mainly on accomplishing how do I hit iron shots into greens to give myself the best chance to give myself the ability to make birdie,” he said. “There was a lot of times last year where I hit decent enough drives, but I just didn’t feel like I was hitting shots in the correct quadrants of the greens or giving myself opportunities on par-5s like I should have.”
DeChambeau also had some physical woes he dealt with during last year’s Masters that caused him to seek a COVID-19 test because he wondered if he might have gotten the virus. The test was negative, but after the tournament, he went through a litany of tests.
Among the things he described: CT scans, X-rays, an ultrasound on his heart, measuring the blood vessels in his neck, infection checks, brain scans and oxygen levels.
“There were some interesting things that went on,” he said. “Took about four or five months to figure out what it was. And we couldn’t find anything. Absolutely nothing.”
What DeChambeau would like to find is some success at Augusta National. He was the low amateur in 2016, when he tied for 21st. In three tries as a pro, he has finished tied for 38th, tied for 29th and tied for 34th. He has broken 70 just twice in 16 rounds.
“There are certain holes out here where length does help tremendously. And so as you look at it from a statistical point of view, there is a lot of advantages to be had with length for me,” he said. “But, again, you go up around those putting greens, and you just try to hit it into those areas of the green where the pins are, and it becomes very diabolical.
“Length is only as good as you can hit your next shot is what I always say. And that’s the most important thing about Augusta National, is it doesn’t test just the driving. It tests your second shots, it tests the third shot, it tests — you’re making for par, your 4-footer you’re trying to make for par.
“I think that’s what’s so special about here is that you have to have every facet of your game working really, really well.”
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