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Bryson DeChambeau taps Concession as career launching pad

Bryson DeChambeau at 2021 Saudi International
Bryson DeChambeau returns to The Concession Golf Club near Bradenton, Fla., where he won the 2015 NCAA title, to compete in the WGC Workday Championship that begins Thursday.

Florida club, site of PGA Tour's WGC Workday event this week, hosted 2015 NCAAs that ‘expedited’ pro career for DeChambeau

It was only one golf tournament among many for Bryson DeChambeau, but his first appearance at The Concession Golf Club six years ago proved to be life-changing.

DeChambeau pointed to the 2015 NCAA Division I Championship at Concession, near Bradenton, Fla., as the moment when he knew that he had the right stuff to compete at the next level. In fact, he noted Wednesday, during his pre-tournament news conference ahead of this week’s WGC Workday at The Concession, the very instant when his thinking shifted to bigger goals: a two-putt par from about 60 feet on the ninth hole, his 18th of the final round, to secure the clubhouse lead and eventually win the 2015 NCAA title.

“That was the moment that I knew I could play golf under pressure,” said DeChambeau, who won the national college title as a junior at Southern Methodist and added the U.S. Amateur trophy that summer.

“I didn't even know if I was going to be playing golf for the rest of my life before the NCAAs,” said DeChambeau, 27, a seven-time PGA Tour winner who grew up in central California. When SMU was placed on NCAA probation in the fall semester of his senior year, he turned professional.

“I was really good and I would have tried to play on tour, but a lot of things got expedited when I won the NCAAs and the U.S. Amateur.”

DeChambeau will be one of five competitors from that 2015 national championship who return this week to the southwest coast of Florida. The 73-man, no-cut event will be worth $10.5 million, with $1.82 million to the winner. DeChambeau will be paired with Patrick Reed and Viktor Hovland in the 12:37 p.m. EST group off the No. 1 tee on Thursday (tee times).

Concession, a 2006 Jack Nicklaus-Tony Jacklin design, celebrates Nicklaus’ famous conceded putt on the final hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup, ensuring a halve with Jacklin and a tied team match between the U.S. and Great Britain. The course replaced Mexico City’s Chapultepec Golf Club because of travel complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the 2015 NCAAs, DeChambeau carried about 195 pounds on his 6-foot-1-inch frame. After famously beefing up to about 250 pounds and increasing his driver swing speed to about 200 mph during the three-month COVID-19 suspension in play last year, DeChambeau disclosed Wednesday that he has dropped about 20 pounds in recent weeks and now weighs about 230.

“I have the same strength,” said DeChambeau, who leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, with a 327.4-yard average. “I haven't tried to push strength levels because it makes me really fatigued and tired. I'll do it in the offseason. That's why I came back at Sentry [Tournament of Champions]. I was a lot bigger; I looked bigger. But again, I'm just going to keep trying to gain muscle, size and strength and pushing the same tolerance levels throughout the week. I won't try to stress anything, because I've got to play golf.”

DeChambeau, who is No. 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, enters this week’s tournament after a missed cut last week in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. The reigning U.S. Open champion also won the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year, after the season restart in June.

For golf fans who might be more intrigued about his weight-loss plan than his swing-speed gains, it sounds fairly simple.

“Not eating as much; that's it,” he said. “I'll still do two, three [protein] shakes a day, but then I just don't eat as much. A little more protein. The portions are smaller; that's all.” Sounds like an easy recipe for fewer pounds and more yards.

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