Count England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick among those concerned about what Bryson DeChambeau’s approach to golf is doing to the game.
DeChambeau returned to competition this week averaging more than 350 yards off the tee in the first round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. That came after he eschewed U.S. Open wisdom by bombing the ball as far as he could off the tee and chipping his way out of six-inch rough at Winged Foot last month.
DeChambeau blasted his way to a six-shot win at the U.S. Open, leaving players like Fitzpatrick, who missed the cut, wondering what they can do to compete.
Fitzpatrick: ‘No point’ when DeChambeau is ‘on’
“He’s in the rough and miles up and he’s just hitting wedges everywhere,” Fitzpatrick said this week, per Sky Sports. “It just makes a bit of a mockery of it, I think. I just looked at Shot Tracker yesterday, some of the places he hit it (at Winged Foot) and how he’s cutting corners.
“When he’s on, there’s no point, is there. It doesn’t matter if I play my best, he’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee. You know, the only thing I can compete with him is putting, and that’s just ridiculous.”
Rather than take an extended break between the U.S. Open and this week’s event, DeChambeau went to work on testing a 48-inch driver that he plans to put in play for the Masters next month. He wants more distance in an effort to overpower Augusta National.
“I’m looking forward to trying to put in a 48-inch driver and see what that can do for the golf course and what opportunities it will present for me,” DeChambeau said this week. “I think there is a lot of, I don’t know, I guess you could say advantages to having a 48-inch driver and being able to put it in play and keep it in play.”
With his current driver, DeChambeau reached the 380-yard par-4 seventh hole at TPC Summerlin on Friday and converted the eagle. It was his sixth eagle putt through 25 holes.
Fitzpatrick said he hopes the USGA and the R&A will make an effort to reduce the technology assisting players in gaining such prodigious length.
“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way in my opinion,” he said, per Sky Sports. “I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a bio-mechanist and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact.
“I could put another two inches on my driver. I could gain that, but the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill, he’s just taking the skill out of it in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft.”
DeChambeau played the first two rounds of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with Matthew Wolff and Cameron Champ, two more of the rising young players known for their length off the tee. DeChambeau said it was “fun” to be in that threesome overpowering TPC National to the tune of a combined 16-under par on Thursday, and doesn’t appear concerned about what people think about how he may be influencing the next wave of players.
“I guess you could say it was all, amazing to see the power that’s out here now,” he said. “I think that’s a testament to the new generation that’s coming up and what it’s going to be like in the future.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)