Can Augusta cope with the ‘Incredible Bulk’?
Friday, September 25th, 2020
Hong Kong, Thursday
Bryson DeChambeau dismantled one of golf’s most feared courses to win his maiden major title at the US Open, raising concerns about what he might do to Augusta when the Masters rolls around in November.
DeChambeau, bulked-up from a regime of weight training and protein shakes during the coronavirus lockdown, brutalised Winged Foot with a singular strategy that upset the purists and prompted soul-searching among the golfing establishment.
Tossing convention out of the window, the 27-year-old eschewed accuracy in favour of smashing his drives for pure distance hitting just four of his last 21 fairways and relying on his new-found strength to muscle recovery shots out of deep rough.
Together with rock-solid putting, the result was a six-shot triumph, with DeChambeau the only player to shoot below par in the final round on Sunday.
The fact that it came at a course famed for 1974’s “Massacre at Winged Foot” and the 2006 meltdowns of Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie when Geoff Ogilvy won with a five-over-par total underlined the feeling that this could be a game-changer.
“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a US Open champion does,” said a flabbergasted Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner.
DeChambeau, a physics major, has long prided himself on the analytical approach that has earned him the nickname ‘Mad Scientist’.He’s known for cutting his irons and wedges to the same length, floating his balls in Epsom salt to discover their lighter and heavier sides, and even writing backwards and left-handed to improve his fine motor skills.
For the Masters, Dechambeau, dubbed the ‘Incredible Bulk’ since his physical transformation, is planning to add another 10 pounds (five kilos) of muscle and is considering using an outsized, 48-inch driver.
The danger for the sport’s hierarchy is that DeChambeau repeats his success at Augusta, which suits long hitters and has little rough, forcing them to change the rules or equipment to stop golf turning into a driving contest.
But DeChambeau warned: “It’s tough to rein in athleticism. We’re always going to be trying to get fitter, stronger, more athletic.
“Tiger (Woods) inspired this whole generation to do this and we’re going to keep going after it. I don’t think it’s going to stop.”
While DeChambeau was turning heads at Winged Foot, New Zealand’s Danny Lee was losing his.
After an increasingly irate six-putt on the final hole of his third round, Lee slammed his putter into his bag and hurled it into the turf, before withdrawing with a wrist injury.
“The most likely cause for a sore wrist would have been the 30-year-old smashing his putter into his bag as he stormed off the green,” quipped New Zealand’s Stuff website.
Lee’s quintuple bogey left him 13 over for the tournament -- no disgrace on a course that has been the undoing of many a player -- but it was his fit of pique that drew negative attention. -AFP