Buff American golfer Bryson DeChambeau used his long-drive prowess and on-song short game to dominate his PGA Tour rivals and claim a $A10.78 million winner’s cheque with a 7-under 65 in the final round at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
However the man dubbed ‘The Mad Scientist’ for his unique application of physics to his game, which threatens to change golf forever, caused some controversy before the final day’s play at Detroit Golf Club.
DeChambeau has been in the headlines since the PGA Tour’s return following a break due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to his incredible body transformation, gaining 18 kilograms in muscle mass during the time off.
Smacking drives nearly 350 metres and routinely setting himself up for birdies and eagles, DeChambeau has sent a warning to other pros with his sixth victory on tour. He even broke golf’s automatic live scores site ShotLink.
But on Saturday during his third round, he grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.
DeChambeau had a terse exchange with a TV cameraman after a bogey on the sixth hole, having hit the sand with his club in frustration, and after the round, the American bristled that it wasn’t right “showing a potential vulnerability” and “hurting someone’s image”.
“He was literally watching me the whole entire way up after getting out of the bunker, walking up next to the green,” DeChambeau told the Golf Channel.
“And I just was like, ‘Sir, what is the need to watch me that long?’
“I mean, I understand it’s his job to video me, but at the same point, I think we need to start protecting our players out here compared to showing a potential vulnerability and hurting someone’s image. I just don’t think that’s necessarily the right thing to do.
“As much as we’re out here performing, I think it’s necessary that we have our times of privacy as well when things aren’t going our way. I mean, we’re in the spotlight, but if somebody else is in the spotlight they wouldn’t want that either.
“I feel like when you’re videoing someone and you catch Tiger (Woods) at a bad time, you show him accidentally doing something, or someone else, they’re just frustrated because they really care about the game. It could really hurt them if they catch you at a potentially vulnerable time.
“We don’t mean anything by it, we just care a lot about the game. For that to damage our brand like that, that’s not cool in the way we act because if you actually meet me in person, I’m not too bad of a dude, I don’t think.”
That response drew the ire of some golf media and fans, not impressed by DeChambeau’s take, especially after he had let cameras in to his private home during the coronavirus shutdown to show how he achieved his remarkable physical transformation.
“It’s one of life’s more reliable axioms that if a man has to tell you he’s a good dude, there’s a fair chance he is actually an insufferable gobs—e,” Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch wrote.
“Credit DeChambeau’s optimism in thinking that being shown acting like a jerk would hurt his image rather than merely solidify it.
“Just a few weeks ago, he posted to Instagram an intimate, 15-minute movie in which a camera caressed him as he ambled from his bedroom to breakfast, lingered over his form during workouts, and gazed adoringly at him as he cruised the neighbourhood in his convertible. It was a love letter to himself.
“DeChambeau paid for the cameras in his home, but not those at Detroit Golf Club. But he seems to believe any lens has the same function: to celebrate his brand of data-crunching and protein-shaking, to showcase his prodigious distance but never his astonishingly shallow depth. In short, to help him sling product.”
Golf Channel’s Will Gray was the reporter to get DeChambeau’s comments and could not refute that he had only inflamed the haters.
“Those comments [on the cameraman] only intensified the flood of online opinions centred around the 26-year-old, with many noting a jarring juxtaposition: that a player who released a 15-minute hype video detailing his body transformation last month would play the privacy card the moment he’s caught in an unflattering light,” Gray wrote.
“And that’s a shame, because the on-course DeChambeau brand was floating by just fine on its own merits before the man himself poured gas on an unlit fire and reached for a match.
“DeChambeau isn’t a conformist. He’s not going to adjust to the mores that have governed the game for hundreds of years. He’ll continue to swim upstream one technical innovation at a time, attracting a wide range of opinions on his tactics and philosophies, and likely won’t reach the levels of universal adulation achieved by some of his peers.
“What he is, though, is the undisputed hottest player in the game.
“Sunday was a good day for Bryson, both the player and the brand.”
Action Network golf writer Jason Sobel was equally critical of DeChambeau’s “world-class triple-bogey” with the cameraman incident, but ultimately was willing to forgive him for his foibles, describing DeChambeau as “a combo platter of reasons why some love to hate him”.
“Maybe some observers don’t like Bryson because he’s too smug or too jacked or too whiny,” Sobel wrote.
“But there are undoubtedly those who aren’t rooting for him out of a fear that he’s going to change the entire way golf is played.
“He’s dominating the headlines right now, but it might not be long before he’s similarly dominating golf, having found a previously hidden key and used it to unearth all of the classified information on how to succeed.
“If he does it, it’ll happen under the glare of an intense spotlight, with many fans pulling for him, but just as many – or more – rooting for him to fail.
“That’s true polarisation right there and for whichever side of the fence you’re on, whichever direction you’d like to see DeChambeau’s progress continue, we can all at least agree that he’s self-aware of the criticism.”
Following the victory, DeChambeau had a message for those critical of him.
“No matter how much you say about me, I love everyone,” he said.
“And I hope everyone appreciates the work I’m putting in.”
DeChambeau shot a 7-under 65 at Detroit Golf Club in his final round, birdieing four of the first seven holes and closing with three straight. He finished at a career-best 23-under 265.
Matthew Wolff (71) was second. He started the day with a three-shot lead and hurt his chances with five bogeys over his first 10 holes. Kevin Kisner (66) finished another stroke back.
DeChambeau removed all doubt with a strong finish.
He made a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 16, a short putt for birdie on the next hole and uncorked a 367-yard drive to set up another short putt at 18.
DeChambeau’s drive on the 621-yard, par-5 fourth went way left and landed in greenside rough on an adjacent hole. He cleared trees and landed just short of the green, sending his approach 276 yards and he two-putted from 37 feet.
DeChambeau came into the week with six straight top-eight finishes and was the only player with top tens in the first three events after the restart from the coronavirus. He won for the first time since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November 2018.
DeChambeau celebrates Rocket Mortgage Classic win
DeChambeau earned this peculiar moniker ‘The Mad Scientist’ on the PGA Tour due to his determined application of science in the sport. At college DeChambeau majored in physics, and he swears by the decision to cut all his custom-made clubs to the same length, using carefully placed weights on lower-numbered irons to generate more power, while therefore maintaining the same swing-plane, posture and set-up.
He’s the only player on tour to currently utilise the method, and despite the constant scepticism from traditionalists, it’s working for the California native.
There are other scientific quirks he applies to his game too, such as the habit of floating his golf balls in Epsom salts and water to work out their centre of gravity and eliminate those that don’t meet the required standard before a round. And his impressive ability on the green he would put down to using PuttView technology in practice to help “train his eyes and in a numerical point of view” how much break is in a putt, using the length, the percentage of slope, and the green speed to help him sink it every time.
DeChambeau was also one of the first high-profile golfers to completely embrace the new golf rule introduced in January which allows flagsticks be left in, unattended, while players putt on the green, and if the pin is struck by a ball, there is no longer a penalty.
– with AP