News & Opinion

Should Bryson DeChambeau be favored to win Masters?

Bryson DeChambeau at 2020 U.S. Open
Bryson DeChambeau must master the greens at Augusta National to win a 2nd consecutive major championship.

The bookies say yes, but John Hawkins and Mike Purkey – surprise! – are at odds again

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the weekly Hawk & Purk podcast on MorningRead.com, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

Never mind the bookies. Is Bryson DeChambeau the thinking man’s favorite to win the 2020 Masters?

Hawk’s take: Whoa! Not so fast, hombre. Only a handful of guys have claimed back-to-back major titles since Tiger Woods made it standard operating procedure in the early 2000s. DeChambodacious looked pretty close to invincible en route to the rout last week at Winged Foot, but a U.S. Open is a very different animal than the Masters. A lot of top-tier tour pros have needed years to figure out Augusta National – some never do get there – mainly because the greens are so dastardly and tend to favor players who have putted them many times before.

DeChambeau has participated in three Masters to date, finishing T-21, T-38 and T-29. Not bad at all, but if you sent the top 25 golfers in the world out to play the Bobby Jones masterpiece 100 times apiece, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson likely would finish with the lowest scoring average and grab the most “victories” of the 25 available. They should be the co-favorites, although McIlreckless has shown an alarming tendency to follow up an excellent round at the majors with a lousy one, which is no way to make it deep into Sunday afternoon.

Brawny Bryson is the cat’s meow right now, but the Masters is still seven weeks away. His preposterous length off the tee is an obvious asset anywhere, but without any debilitating rough to speak of at Augusta National, DeChambeau loses an edge that separated him from everyone else at Winged Foot: the strength to consistently play quality golf shots from 4½ inches of unforgiving grass.

Without that asset, plus a relative lack of experience on those menacing greens, the U.S. Open champ is a silly wager at odds of 8-1, a crappy purchase at 10-1 and nothing close to a bargain at 12-1. What happened last week won’t help him much, if at all, in November.

Purk’s take: Who in his right mind would think that Bryson DeChambeau isn’t the favorite for the Masters? Especially after his performance at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Let’s look at it scientifically, as DeChambeau would. First, there’s driving distance, which always has been an advantage at Augusta National. He led the PGA Tour last season in that statistic, and everyone knows he’s capable of some monster drives. He hit driver and pitching wedge to the 557-yard ninth hole at Winged Foot last week – twice.

And with a minimal amount of rough, accuracy won’t be an issue, so Augusta National truly will be a par-68 – or less – for DeChambeau. In fact, unless a new tall pine mysteriously appears in the corner of the dogleg at the par-5 13th, driver and wedge will be DeChambeau’s play every day.

He has an underrated short game, finishing 17th on Tour last season in scrambling and 10th in strokes gained putting. The argument that he doesn’t have enough experience on Augusta National’s greens to fully understand them simply underestimates DeChambeau and his ability for problem solving. Remember, he has a device that measures putts in miles per hour. He will have the greens properly charted and the equations worked out.

And then there are the intangibles, particularly confidence, in which DeChambeau no doubt leads the Tour. Now, does all that guarantee DeChambeau a green jacket? Of course not. But to believe he’s not the favorite is just ignoring the science, which never lies.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.