Bryson DeChambeau shows brawn but lacks brain in shaky Masters start
He’s definitely got the brawn. But does Bryson DeChambeau have the brain to take Augusta National apart? No would be the answer judging by the title favourite’s bullish mindset at one of the holes he expected to be easy in the 84th Masters.
DeChambeau, who had provided the main narrative heading into the rescheduled final men’s major of the year with his desire to take big-hitting to a whole new level, probably had four birdies - if not better - in mind at the par-5 13th at Augusta National.
He certainly wouldn’t have bargained for a double-bogey 7 in the opening round - and it was all his own doing. A pushed drive found a similar spot in the pine straw from where Phil Mickelson produced a wonder shot in the final round in 2010.
In comparison, DeChambeau’s effort was a shocker. At such an early stage in the event, it had safety first written all over it. Instead, the US Open champion went for it with a 7-iron and paid the price.
It was pulled into the azaleas, lacking their bloom this year but, nonetheless, penal. Deciding to play a provisional, he hit that right into the creek. All the hype surrounding the 27-year-old was being made to look a tad silly.
The one in the bushes was found, but, after a penalty drop and a duff, he walked off the green with his tail between his legs. That had been his second provisional ball in three holes after a wild hook at the 11th - his second.
Just four holes in, DeChambeau found himself having to try and rip up the record books as it was quickly pointed out by one of the game’s statisticians that none of the last 30 winners in the Green Jacket event had made worse than 6 on any single hole.
To his credit, though, DeChambeau didn’t let those huge shoulders drop, repairing that damage with back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th. Following a near three-hour delay due to an early-morning thunderstorm, his approach at the 15th almost disappeared in its pitchmark on the green.
He’d come into this event with a poor putting record at the Georgia venue. A well-judged 19-foot left-to-right breaker at the 16th would have been a confidence-booster, therefore. As would the nice touch he showed to get up and down from through the green at the next to save par.
A booming 352-yard drive down the hill at the par-5 second set up another birdie, moving him into red figures for the first time but trailing the likes of defending champion Tiger Woods and English duo Paul Casey and Lee Westwood as they all started strongly.
In one of his practice rounds, DeChambeau had knocked a 3-wood through the back of the green at the third, a 350-yard par-4. With the driver in hand, he came up just short in the heat of battle and would have been disappointed not to make a birdie.He’d talked about the par for him here being 67 as opposed to 72, but, even with a birdie to finish, had to settle for a 70. That made it just once in 13 rounds he’s broken 70 here. Bringing this place to its knees will have to wait for another day.
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