News & Opinion

Bryson DeChambeau makes strong pitch to defy convention

Bryson DeChambeau holds trophy for winning 2020 U.S. Open
Bryson DeChambeau doesn’t wear a watch when he plays, but like clockwork, he knows when to start promoting his sponsors. And, yes, that’s a Rolex.

After the thrill comes the shill for golf's new ironman, who might be not only the game's best player but perhaps the smartest, too

Bryson DeChambeau is a bull. And the china shop is losing.

Never has pro golf seen a creature quite like this: a man so unique in mentality and method that what he accomplishes almost seems less important than how he accomplished it. Lots of guys defy convention in one form or another. DeChambeau goes about his business like a man trying to reinvent the game, or at the very least, several crucial elements of it.

This includes the Sunday evening victory lap – trophy ceremony + media briefing – which the brand-new U.S. Open champ took in his own direction after the dominant performance at Winged Foot. Having made it top priority to trumpet his commercial partners during the hardware presentation with the USGA, DeChambeau must have thought an entirely different group of people was watching when he sat down with Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis moments later to discuss his first major title.

Lewis: “As you look back on this week, recapturing all those memories, what will stand out?”

DeChambeau: “First off, I want to say thank you to all the sponsors who have been with me since day one. Cobra, Puma, Bridgestone. I said this a little while ago, but … Veritex, HD Golf, Bentley, Rolex, SNP, a bunch of them. I can’t remember every single one of them because there are too many, but that shows how many people have been so supportive of me, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Apparently not. For the record, DeChambillboard forgot NetJets, Bose, Grey Goose and a few others, so he wasn’t kidding in saying the list was a bit long to commit to memory. Nonetheless, his mere reference to those omissions came off like the stink after a fart. It was a crass way to begin the interview with Lewis, made tackier not only because Brawny Bryson felt obliged to repeat the spiel to a national television audience, but the smugness with which he justified leaving a few companies out.

Did this guy win the U.S. Open just so he could offer a shout-out to his financial homies? Of course not, but if you think a dude that smart could make such opening remarks without planning it in advance, you’ll probably open an account at Veritex tomorrow morning. Just hold off on the Grey Goose until afterward.

Sports fans have grown accustomed to hearing athletes acknowledge the Man Upstairs after a big victory or heroic deed. Such overt religious implication surely rubs many people the wrong way, particularly if the same wide receiver thanking the Big Guy has been charged with two felonies in the past 18 months. The PGA Tour is not without its Bible readers and card-carrying Christians, but for the most part, the world’s best golfers don’t turn a triumph into a reason to grab the social megaphone.

DeChambeau, as is his custom, basically went the opposite way. He tossed bouquets at everyone who contributes to his bank account, replacing God with Gordon Gekko. It happens all the time in NASCAR, where the victorious driver wastes no time blowing kisses to his favorite detergent, chainsaw manufacturer and chocolate-covered candy. It’s an accepted practice throughout a competitive industry in which men spend a couple of hours driving at 200 miles per hour, but golf?

Many of you still reading this have absolutely no problem with DeChambeau’s fiscal-service announcement. It was gauche, perhaps inappropriate, but it wasn’t against the law, and never will be. More than anything, it speaks to the Brainiac’s complete lack of concern about what people think of him. He is remarkably bold, easy to scold and allergic to the mold. And while we’re at it, he’s oversold and not very old – DeChambeau turned 27 the day before embarking on the rout at Winged Foot.

He is a fascinating subject from a journalist’s perspective, a human lightning rod who is by far the biggest (and most persistent) golf story in 2020. The gift who keeps on giving, you might say, a ridiculously hard worker whose U.S. Open performance validates every protein shake, barbell and range ball he has consumed over the past 12 months. DeChambeau’s focus, drive and self-belief are all the more admirable, given his off-the-beaten-path ideology – specifically the willingness to reconstruct his body in the middle of rush-hour traffic – and subsequent success.

Turns out, the kid was right. You can add 40 pounds of muscle between the ninth green and 10th tee, then play better than anyone else when it matters most. Will DeChambody’s astounding physical transformation inspire other tour pros to bulk up and stand out? Probably not. There’s nothing unfortunate about a life of T-12s and $2.2 million in annual earnings.

Is DeChambrash good for the game? You bet your sweet bippy he is. There are times when he’s petulant and arrogant, but these days, he’s never irrelevant. With Tiger Woods fading from view and several of the game’s biggest stars (Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth) stuck at the competitive crossroads, pro golf can do well to ride the sturdy shoulders of a rabble-rousing iconoclast who thinks differently, performs brilliantly, then follows it up by behaving like a guy who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else.

Maybe he is. That interview with Lewis was the only double bogey DeChambeau made all week. By then, the china shop was an absolute mess.

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