Bryson DeChambeau looking to make Masters history
An autograph seeker at the Arnold Palmer Invitational wanted Bryson DeChambeau to sign a Masters souvenir flag. It was folded in squares, with the Masters logo facing up. The only place to sign was inside the field of the outline of the United States.
DeChambeau turned it over to sign the back because he knows the unwritten rule that only Masters champions are supposed to sign inside the Masters logo . The rest sign around it.
At age 26, DeChambeau has already become an established star on the PGA Tour with five wins and an appearance in the 2018 Ryder Cup.
“At some point in time I’m going to have a great opportunity (to win the Masters),” he said. “It’s just going to be about putting myself in the right situation and having the proper conditions.”
If DeChambeau were to win at Augusta National, he could be the first champion to take the green jacket by making the final putt with the flagstick in the hole. Under a new USGA/R&A rule this season, players can leave the pin in when on the green and DeChambeau is one of the biggest proponents of the change. The only times he pulls it out is when the shadow is in his line because the flag is moving or if there’s too much wind and he can hear the flag.
“It would pretty cool, huh?” said DeChambeau, of tapping in for a Masters victory with the flagstick in the hole. “It would be pretty historic, pretty historic.”
He said he plans to keep the pin in at every tournament this season except for the U.S. Open, where the flagsticks are thicker. The flagsticks at Augusta National, DeChambeau said, “are pretty close to ones out here (the PGA Tour).”
DeChambeau, a Southern Methodist University graduate with a physics degree, is known as the “Mad Scientist” because of his analytic approach to golf. His irons are all the same length and he and his caddie Tim Tucker make detailed calculations before hitting a shot. Not just the standard yardage and wind numbers, but air density, trajectory, firmness values, mile-per-hour on the speed and ball speed and spin rates.
“Obviously what he’s doing, works,” said Brooks Koepka, who won the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship last year. “It’s not for me, I can tell you that, whatever he’s doing. I heard air density, moisture on the golf ball, rough, all that stuff, it’s too much. I just know how far I hit it, when I want to hit it three quarter full, all this stuff.”
During practice rounds DeChambeau and Tucker analyze the course they will play that week with various instruments.
“I’m just trying to quantify it to where we can make proper adjustments,” DeChambeau said. “It’s literally about adjustments and flighting it properly with the proper spin. If I can do that and we understand that, it’s a different league.”
Unfortunately for DeChambeau and Tucker, Augusta National doesn’t allow that kind of preparation.
“The tough part is they don’t really allow too many devices out there so getting all of our numbers and figuring out our adjustments is kind of difficult,” said DeChambeau, who will be making his third Masters appearance. “So we have to kind of figure out some stuff empirically.”
He said of the four majors, the PGA Championship allows “all of our devices” which is why he thinks that is his best chance to win a major.
As for winning the Masters this year, DeChambeau said: “If you give me firm conditions out there, I’ll have a very good chance. Soft conditions, we’re still working on. We haven’t figured that out just yet.”
DeChambeau won four times on Tour last year, including back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events. He won the Dubai Desert Classic on Jan. 27 for his first international victory.
“My game last year was pretty much the same as this year from an adjustment perspective on how much we know,” said DeChambeau, who was ranked fifth in the world after his Dubai win. “I would say I feel a little bit more prepared (for the Masters) this year. But you never know.”