If you’ve ever watched Bryson DeChambeau on the golf course, you know he’s anything but your standard, stock, straight-outta-central-casting PGA Tour pro. DeChambeau has become known as a mad scientist of sorts, diving into science, analytics and technology to find an edge in his game.
This season, after winning in Las Vegas in the fall, DeChambeau has struggled to find the red-hot form of a year ago, but says when he does find it, and he’s at his best, it’s game over for the rest of the PGA Tour.
As the defending Northern Trust champion gets ready to defend his title at Liberty National, he recently sat down with SI.com’s Ryan Asselta,
Ryan Asselta: A year ago, your win at the Northern Trust kick-started a monster end of the summer and early fall for you. You win at Ridgewood, then again the next week at the Dell. You also win the Shriners in November. Have you ever experienced anything like that? Being that locked in for that amount of time?
Bryson DeChambeau: The only other time I could say I was that locked in was the 2015 U.S. Amateur, where I played seven days of unbelievable golf. But to win and then to do it, again, I hadn't done that before ever. For me to experience being locked in and feeling like I was invincible for a while was fun.
I try and set goals and stick to them. Those weeks were an example of that. I want to be the number one player in the world, right? But at the end of the day you have to go through each individual step and be able to execute each individual step to be able to get to that goal. And so that's really what I'm mainly focused on is every day improving just a little bit.
RA: You go back to the Northern Trust as the defending champion, but at a completely different golf course. Ridgewood and Liberty National are almost complete opposite of each other in terms of architecture. How much are you looking forward to playing there?
BD: I’ve never played it and other than the Presidents Cup, I haven’t really seen it. It has a cool backdrop and I know it's a demanding golf course off the tee, just like Ridgewood is. I'm going to try and do the same thing as last year, just drive it like crazy and do a good job hitting every fairway I can. It just comes down to executing driver, irons and making some putts. It's super simple. I mean its cliché to say, but in order to win tournaments you just have to be able to execute under the gun in certain situations.
RA: You were able to get a good feel for the New York/ New Jersey fan base at Ridgewood last year. How would you describe the New York golf fans?
BD: Oh, rowdy. But I like it. I think it's a different crowd, but a crowd that has been very nice to me. They like my unique style and different way of thinking about it and I think it’s a breath of fresh air to them compared to the stuck up golfers that some people think we are.
There's a lot of emotion going on, in a great way, and I think they liked it. You don’t like somebody just going and walking up and knocking in putts and saying “thank you and blah, blah, blah”. It was always like, “Yeah…Let’s Go!”
RA: You started this season off hot, winning Shriners and kind of picking up where you left off in the fall, but you’ve cooled off this summer. What are you working on right now to, to get back to that form?
BD: This whole year I've been trying to figure out how to play better in rainy, wet conditions. I've struggled to figure that answer out. I know the causes of the issues, but I don't know how to fix them.
I feel like the last couple of weeks I have gained a lot of ground and I'm playing pretty well. I’m slowly getting more confident in pressure situations.
I'm still the same golfer I was a year ago. It's just I'm trying to make the worst situations, which are rainy and wet conditions for me, better, you know? And if I can do that and play well in those conditions, I think it's game over.
RA: Seeing how strong you played during that stretch last August and fall, is that level of play the new standard that you're trying to achieve?
BD: The standard is always winning every week. I know that if we have our system in place, and I'm super comfortable with the conditions and all that, I know that every week I can win. That's just it. The only reason why I don't win is because of a bad decision, misjudged the wind, misjudged the read on the greens and wet conditions. Those are the three or four things that will cause me not to win. That’s it.
RA: This year you had the first hole in one of your life…and it came on 16 at the Masters. First off, how did you go that long never having a hole in one?
BD: Well, I had some close ones over the years and I've done everything but put it in the hole. I've had it lip out, left it on the edge, and almost flown it in. And finally it happened at Augusta on number 16. I knew when I went there as an amateur in 2016, that one day I was going to get my first hole in one there. For some reason I just knew and sure enough it happened. It was the coolest moment in my golf life for sure.
The hair on the back of my neck, my arms everywhere just stood up and I got the chills. You could see from the video that I was completely in shock. I just jumped and did a Phil Mickelson, but maybe a little higher.
RA: Obviously the golf world knows you do things differently, especially with technology and your single length clubs. How would you describe yourself if you were writing your own online profile?
BD: Well, I'd be one that never accepts an underperformance. I'd be a guy that always tries to make the worst part of anything in life better. I sometimes look back and appreciate what I’ve accomplished overall.
I always look at the worst situations and try and figure out how I can make them better. Let today's garbage be better than yesterday’s, is my motto.
I got that from this book called The Golfing Machine.It was a pretty cool quote that I'll remember it for the rest of my life.
RA: When it comes to data, science, analytics, do you think the PGA Tour and Tour players are a little bit behind the times with what you're doing?
BD: Oh, yeah they are way behind the times. I wouldn't say it's more statistics or analytics. Everybody's doing statistics on some end, but it’s more of finding little facets of the game that affect the game in a big way. But nobody knows it yet. And that's what I try and look for. I look for those little things so I can get an advantage where nobody's looking.
It's kind of like looking at the market, you know? You look at the stock market, and try and find little areas where something’s getting overlooked.
RA: Do you feel like you have an edge?
BD: Yeah, I do. Absolutely. I have an edge. That's why I'm able to not play great and still not fall off the map. You know? I'm able to still try things without going to ground zero. I can always pull myself out of these rabbit holes. I know I'm going to make the cut. I know I'm going to perform pretty well. And you know... if I get a little hot, maybe I can still win with my worst game.
And I always want to win with my worst game. That's what I've always said I'd never won with my best game. If I won with my best game, I’d win by 12 strokes. It’s never happened. I was close in Dubai. I won by 7.
I'm never going to understand everything about the game of golf, but it's always about finding little edges and trying to get it quicker than everyone else.