If Bryson DeChambeau had been a pro in the 2016 Masters Tournament, he would have taken home more than $110,000 in prize money.
He still left with a smile and a silver cup for being the low amateur by finishing in a tie for 21st place.
“It was great,” said DeChambeau, who had earlier won the NCAA Championship individual title and the U.S. Amateur. “I loved it. Look, playing in the Masters is a pretty cool feat. For me to do it and be the low amateur one of the years is pretty special. I’ll never forget it.”
Two years later, he’s back at Augusta National, qualifying as a PGA Tour winner (the John Deere Classic) and can receive prize money as a pro.
Now that he’s making his living playing golf, it would seem to follow that DeChambeau would take the Masters more seriously.
“Naw, I really was (serious) when I was an amateur,” he said. “As a professional, it’s another tournament. It’s my favorite tournament of the year and I know I can do well there.”
Looking back on the 2016 Masters, he handled Augusta National well, with the exception of one hole – the par-4 18th. He played it 4-over.
“It’s always a (tough hole),” DeChambeau said.
Had he played it even par, he would have tied for 10th place at 289. Instead, he finished at 5-over 293.
He parred No. 18 in the first round, made triple in the second round, double in the third and birdied it in the final round, which was his last hole as an amateur. He turned pro the next week at Hilton Head Island, where he tied for fourth and won $259,600, softening the blow of leaving Augusta without a check.
In the second round of the 2016 Masters, DeChambeau was among the leaders when he went to No. 18. He’d opened with 72 and was 3-under for his second round after 17 holes. After the triple, he ended up four shots out of the 36-hole lead.
“I didn’t execute a shot with a certain wind,” he said of his tee shot on No. 18, which set the triple bogey in motion. “It was off the left and I thought it was more off the left and I hit it low and the trees were blocking everything. I pulled it. Just unfortunate.”
Not many players who are about to play in their second Masters have played Augusta National as many times as DeChambeau – around 20. In the months leading up to the 2016 Masters, he played the course 12 times, not counting practice rounds Masters Week and tournament play.
Since qualifying again by winning the John Deere, he has taken a few more scouting trips to Augusta National.
“Just getting comfortable with it again,” he said. “I know pretty much everything there is to know.”
His victory at the John Deere in July, the week before the British Open, got him in the field at Royal Birkdale.
“I was thinking about the British initially, then it hit me a little later (that it also qualified him for the 2018 Masters),” he said. “It was always a tournament I wanted to go back to. I definitely said ‘I’m going back to the Masters,’ after I won, which was fun.”