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Will DeChambeau’s US Open change golf?

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Bryson DeChambeau’s US Open win and scientific approach to his game has other golfers talking about the future of the sport. AFP

Will DeChambeau’s US Open change golf?

Whether Bryson DeChambeau’s US Open victory will revolutionise golf or just give a few people a new edge, it had other players talking after Sunday’s final round at Winged Foot.

Ignoring fears of deep rough in favour of pure distance, DeChambeau fired a three-under par 67 to win his first major title by six strokes, jumping from ninth to fifth in world rankings.

“Revolutionise? Maybe he’s just exposing our game,” US player Xander Schauffele said. “If he keeps hitting it further and further, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to win many more US Opens.”

DeChambeau’s scientific approach, now including a bulked-up body bolstered by protein shakes and exercise over a three-month coronavirus layoff, has proven a winning formula: drive long, wedge from the rough, sink your putts.

“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a US Open champion does,” said four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who shared eighth after a closing 75 left him 12 adrift.

“He has found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know, but it’s just not the way I saw this tournament being played.

“It’s kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”

DeChambeau hit only 23 fairways for the week but also became the first player since 1955 to win with the only sub-par score in the last round. He humbled a course that crushed foes.

“He’s sort of trending in the new direction of golf,” Schauffele said. “Everyone talked about hitting fairways. It’s not about hitting fairways. It’s about hitting on the correct side of the hole and hitting it far so you can kind of hit a wedge instead of a 6-iron out of the rough.

“The only way to make a golf course really hard is to firm up the greens and grow the rough . . . You’d rather be the guy in the rough with a lob wedge than with an 8-iron.”

Then there are those who settle for the old-fashioned fairways, like two-time major winner Zach Johnson.

“If he’s not hitting fairways, the short game has been very good and this place is not easy around the greens,” Johnson said.

“Is it the proper way? I don’t know, but it’s a way to play. And it’s not wrong at all. It’s just very different but also very effective.”

With new club and ball technology to stress distance and big muscles to propel them, DeChambeau has “taken advantage of where the game is at the minute,” Mcilroy said.

“Whether that’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is.”

Harris English, fourth on 283, notes the short-game skill required to maximize the advantage in the strategy.

“It’s incredible what he can do out of the rough,” English said. “It’s a game that we’ve really never seen before.

“John Daly changed it a little bit during his time, Tiger (Woods) changed it and Bryson is changing it again. It’s really impressive what he’s doing.”

McIlroy, hoping to complete a career Grand Slam at the Masters in November, says DeChambeau’s strategy could pay off at Augusta National.

“I don’t shudder, but if he can do it around here, and I’m thinking of Augusta and thinking of the way you sort of play there, yeah,” McIlroy said.

“The game has moved on a lot in the last 14 years since the US Open has been played here, and you’re seeing what the game has become, what he’s doing out there.”

‘Pretty impressive’

McIlroy had been sceptical before, thinking what might work at a PGA Tour event wouldn’t pay off at a major, especially a US Open, due to the punitive rough.

“I sort of said, ‘OK, wait until he gets to a proper golf course. He’ll have to rein it back in,’” McIlroy said. “This is as proper as they come and look what’s happened. He has got full belief in what he’s doing and it’s pretty impressive.”

South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, saw no hope for the US Golf Association to defend a course from DeChambeau.

“I don’t think they can set it up for him,” Oosthuizen said. “I don’t know what they can do really because he’s hitting it so far. He’s so strong out of the rough and he’s probably one of the best putters out there.

“He went out on this journey, and he’s pulling it off. He’s playing great.”


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