MASTERS: The media’s obsession with long hitting DeChambeau

MASTERS – It has been a long week for golf fans waiting for the Masters tournament. It’s usual slot in April was cancelled due to Covid and in the summer it was rescheduled to November. During that time Bryson DeChambeau pilled on 50 lbs in muscle mass and has become the media’s new darling.

DeChambeau secured his PGA Tour card as a slim looking fresh faced young American in 2017. He turned professional the week after his low amateur place at the 2016 Masters. He had a successful amateur career being one of five players to win both the NCAA division championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year.

It was his unconventional golfing style that caught the attention of the media and the public when he first emerged. All of his clubs were the same length, which strays from the tradition of each club incrementally getting longer as the loft decreases. This already stumped professionals and pundits alike, who later gave him the nickname ‘The Scientist’. Such a move was met with scepticism because golf meets any change with plenty of resistance.

Since turning pro he has racked up seven wins and crucially a major championship. His U.S. Open win has blown his popularity among the media out of proportion. Nobody faired too well at Winged Foot earlier on this year, bar DeChambeau; he was the only player having played 72 holes under par. Which is a feat to behold. He didn’t hit many fairways, but he hit it so far that it didn’t matter. The control he showed hitting shots out of long rough was down to his new found muscle mass.

It was his putting and shots from 150 yards and under that impressed the most, but can that be replicated at Augusta this week. In the build up it seemed everyone in the media, especially at Sky Sports, thought he was going to walk it this week because of his length, I don’t see it that way. Paul McGinley has not stopped talking about how DeChambeau has changed the game of golf, again I don’t see it that way.

Yes the big man is hitting it further than most, but not by much, his average is 344 yards, 16 yards ahead of Dustin Johnson, the number one player in the world. Yes Bryson won the U.S. Open with a six stroke margin between him and second place, but Martin Kaymer won the same tournament in 2014 with a eight stroke margin between him and Fowler. Which win was better? (Kaymer hasn’t gone on to do much since)

Just because he has bulked up and hits it a long way, seems to be reason for the media to go into a frenzy, but this isn’t new in golf, Tiger hit it a long way, but he won nearly every time he teed it up at the turn of the century. Other people win one major then do nothing afterwards, Bryson has done nothing since.

I think it would be more understandable, to give him so much coverage, had he won with his overpowering style every time he goes out on tour, but he hasn’t. Dustin Johnson won three times last year and hasn’t finished out side first and second place in his last five events. That is more impressive.

DeChambeau finished his first round at the Masters two under par. Early on in his round he made a double bogey on the short par five 13th. Yesterday in the build up people were calling the 13th a par four for Bryson because of his length, it didn’t turn out that way today. Golf can’t be predicted, but in my eyes there are scores of people with more of a chance this week. The coverage of him as a contender is just, but the weak kneed soppy reporting of his power isn’t justified.

If I’m being cynical, I think some of the coverage he is now getting is because of the ridicule he was met with when he first came out on tour. The people that are singing his praises now weren’t to begin with. He was messing with tradition and trying to make the sport a science, traditionalist had something to say. “This is a game of feel, not science.” People didn’t believe he could get to the summit of this game and in some ways he has and it is impressive, but in my eyes he hasn’t done it for long enough.

What made it all the worse was the coverage of Tiger Woods. Paul McGinley said he had no chance this week, that his form is terrible and his putting has been shocking this year. Both true, but this is Tiger Woods, the man that has come back from a lot worse than putting badly for the few tournaments he has played this year. The man who was the best golfer in the world for 15 straight years. Arguably the best person to play the game, but yet he has no chance. Currently Tiger is two shots ahead of Bryson DeChambeau and I think Tiger will outperform his countrymen throughout the week and come Sunday afternoon he’ll be close to winning his sixth green jacket. And Bryson will still be on zero.

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