Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson admit they were all stunned when they caught a glimpse of Bryson DeChambeau at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge.
DeChambeau returned from the Covid-19 break about 20 pounds heavier – a result of spending the three-month hiatus working out relentlessly and drinking five protein shakes a day.
At Colonial Country Club, he led the way in average driving distance and finished third, just one shot out of the play-off for the title.
At more than 323 yards, he is on pace to break the PGA Tour’s single-season record for average driving distance – 321.4 yards – set by Hank Kuehne in 2003.
But just looking at DeChambeau was as remarkable as watching him play.
“I put my hands on his shoulders last week, just because he looks like a different person,” said Webb Simpson.
“It’s really impressive to be able to change your body that fast and put on that – you know, that much weight and still not have it affect your game in a negative way. I mean, he was tearing apart Colonial in terms of distance and still hitting it really straight.
“So, a lot of props to Bryson for being able to do that and letting his body handle it.”
World No 1 Rory McIlroy got a front-row seat to the new DeChambeau when they were paired together on Sunday, and admits a couple of the American’s drives left him stunned.
“It was nuts. It’s unbelievable. I mean, it’s impressive what he’s doing. There’s going to be courses where it works, and there’s going to be courses where it won’t. I can’t see him hitting that many drivers this week, for example,” McIlroy said, in reference to the much tighter Pete Dye layout at Harbour Town.
“Look, it’s impressive. He’s big. He’s sort of gone down a path, and he’s got a conviction, and he’s following it. That’s what he’s done. He’s always thought outside the box and thought a little differently to most people.
“He’s really put his mind at wanting to get longer, and he’s definitely done that.”
Rickie Fowler was as amazed by DeChambeau’s new look as everyone else but said he wouldn’t want to carry that much extra weight around all day long. He also isn’t convinced trying to hit the ball harder than anyone else is the correct tactic.
“Just walking a golf course with that extra weight, let alone doing some workout at the house, that’s enough for 45 minutes to an hour,” Fowler said. “It’s been really impressive to see what he’s done over, say, the last year or so with his transformation and obviously some serious gain in speed and power.
“But it will be interesting to see kind of where the peak is. Where does it become almost counterproductive as far as like too much speed, where dispersion becomes too great?”
“The long-drive guys, obviously, have a lot of speed, but they can get away with 1 in 8 [drives] in the grid; 1 in 8 won’t do very well out here on Tour. But it is impressive. We’ll see kind of how it works.”
Veteran Jim Furyk has a game built on accuracy as opposed to length but admitted to being intrigued by what DeChambeau is attempting.
“I think what he’s doing is really interesting, to be honest with you,” Furyk said. “I only saw him hit one shot on TV last week. It was, I think, on the second day off the first tee. I think his ball speed was 185. The player that hit right in front of him was Dustin Johnson, and his ball speed was 177.
“So, for me, that was kind of an eye-raiser. Dustin is pretty big, pretty strong, athletic, hits it pretty far. If you’re gaining 8 miles an hour on Dustin Johnson, that’s moving it.
“It’s interesting. I think we’re in an era right now with golf, the way it’s played, the way our golf courses are set up, it’s quite an advantage to be able to hit the ball far like that. I can see why so many guys are kind of chasing distance, using technology, using launch monitors for launch and spin for equipment to gain distance.
“It’s definitely affecting the game.”
– TEAMtalk media