Keeping Score

DeChambeau aims high, keeps climbing

Bryson DeChambeau
Bryson DeChambeau plays his way into the Ryder Cup picture.

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia – In a game in which perfection lies just beyond the reach even of world-class golfers, Bryson DeChambeau nonetheless aims for the ideal.

Speaking here Tuesday along the Red Sea before the European Tour’s inaugural Saudi International, DeChambeau dismissed a suggestion that his tournament-record victory last week in Dubai might have been his best golf yet.

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Bryson DeChambeau

“I think the best I ever performed in golf was actually at the U.S. Amateur in 2015, when I won pretty much every match by four- and five-shot margins of victory, something like that,” DeChambeau said. “That was probably the most dominant performance.”

DeChambeau, 25, a physics major at Southern Methodist who is known as the “Mad Scientist” for his formulaic approach to golf, said he didn’t even have his best game when he routed a strong field at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Not until the final round, at least, when he shot 8-under 64 to set a tournament scoring record at 24-under 264 and win by seven strokes.

Since turning professional after the 2016 Masters, DeChambeau has won seven times. Four of those victories have come in his past eight starts, dating to August at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust, as DeChambeau has risen to a career-high No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I think any time you get on one of those rolls, it's a good feeling,” said Brooks Koepka, who with DeChambeau will be among four of the top five-ranked golfers in the world playing this week at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club (tee times). “You’re very confident. You feel like everything you do, you catch the lucky breaks right when you need to, and you make those clutch par saves or birdies where they are kind of momentum shifters. He's doing a good job of that.”

Koepka pointed to DeChambeau’s final round in Dubai as a testament to an ability to finish off tournaments. That helps distinguish DeChambeau as one of the world’s best golfers.

DeChambeau continually puts himself in a position to win, dating to a tie for fourth in his professional debut, in the 2016 RBC Heritage. He has posted 15 top-10 results in 73 starts on the PGA Tour.

“I've had plenty of tournaments where I've been right there and didn't win, and I think those moments and those failures have actually allowed me a better opportunity to win the next time because I know what that pressure is like and I just have to jump over it,” DeChambeau said. “I have to almost surrender myself and say, You know what? It is what it is, and that's what I do. That's how I get over these humps for me when I get really, really nervous. I just go: All right, you've got to surrender. Let it be. Just walk past it. Walk through that wall.

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Robert Rock (left) works with Bryson DeChambeau during preparations for this week's Saudi International.

MORNING READ/ALEX MICELI
Robert Rock (left) works with Bryson DeChambeau during practice for the Saudi International.

England’s Robert Rock, a two-time winner on the European Tour and an instructor, heard the ball coming off of DeChambeau’s clubhead on the range at Abu Dhabi in 2016 when the American was an amateur. It was a pure sound heard only so often even among the world’s elite golfers. The acoustics promoted Rock to stop and find the source.

The relationship has grown since then. Though Rock was in the middle of a swing session with client Alejandro Cañizares here Tuesday, he stopped DeChambeau to clarify a tip that the American had offered earlier.

Rock thinks that DeChambeau, who plays with single-length irons and espouses the virtues of the single-plane swing, might be starting a revolution in golf. Rock concedes that DeChambeau’s methods are not for everyone but that they could advance the game.

“His methods are proven to be pretty useful,” Rock said. “From my point of view, it’s potentially a simpler action to possibly teach.”

Rock said DeChambeau possesses a “great swing,” which DeChambeau said could be applied to golfers who play the more popular variable-length clubs, as well.

“As much as it looks unique to what I do and how I play, a lot of things I do can be utilized by anybody,” DeChambeau said. “I think that that's kind of the cool part, is just kind of talking to Robert, he being that intellectual about the golf swing, incredible golf swing.”

DeChambeau has become one of the hottest players in golf in recent months, but his game has yet to wilt under TV’s harsh lights. His next big goal: win a major championship.

“I've kind of already checked one off the box, winning internationally and winning on the European Tour,” DeChambeau said. “The next one is going to be a major. I've got to get that done. I know I can. I know I've got the game for it. It's just about making, again, the proper adjustments and taking control of the pressure when it comes.”

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli


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