DeChambeau Learns from ‘67’ Comment, and Dominates Augusta National

After a 7-under 65, he clearly has a different level of respect for the Masters course and a more reserved approach.
DeChambeau's 7-under 65 has him in good position after Round 1 of the Masters.
DeChambeau's 7-under 65 has him in good position after Round 1 of the Masters. / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The jokes came fast and furious and Bryson DeChambeau has had to live with the fallout. He said something he regrets, although at the time and the way he was playing, it actually made some sense.

Four years later, DeChambeau finally broke “par’’ at Augusta National, shooting 65 Thursday at a place that has traditionally given him fits.

Going by the comments that he’s had to live with for four years, that score would be 2 under, rather than the 7 under that shows on the scorecard. DeChambeau knows he messed with the golf gods on that one and has been trying to live it down ever since.

“I said it and I respect people’s opinions on it,’’ said DeChambeau after matching his best round in a major championship to lead No. 1 Scottie Scheffler by a stroke. “For me, I have a level of respect for this golf course that’s a little bit different than a couple of years ago, and clearly today was a great test of golf, and I was about to conquer a very difficult golf course today.

“Reading the 67 comment, you know, you messed up. I’m not a perfect person. Everybody messes up. You learn from your mistake, and that was definitely one.’’

To be fair, when DeChambeau made the comment prior to the 2020 Masters played in the fall due to the coronavirus-19 pandemic, he was coming off a dominating performance at Winged Foot, where he won the U.S. Open by six shots.

But that’s when DeChambeau was bulked up, having gone through a weight-gaining and strength-building program that saw him hit the ball prodigious lengths.

 It was easy to see why DeChambeau felt he could overpower Augusta National, with its wide fairways and reachable par 5s. But Dustin Johnson won that fall’s Masters with a record-setting 20-under score.

DeChambeau never sniffed 67, struggling most of the tournament, with a third-round 69 his best score. In the final round, playing with two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, who was 63 at the time, DeChambeau was hitting it more than 100 yards past the PGA Champions Tour player.

And, yet, Langer beat him, 71–73, as DeChambeau tied for 34th. In six appearances at the Masters as a pro, he’s never cracked the top 20, missing the cut each of the past two years.

But Thursday was different. He birdied the first three holes, and he overcame a three-putt bogey at the ninth and birdied five of his last seven holes, including a risky play from the trees at the par-5 15th that saw him find the green and two-putt for birdie.

“I know his record hasn’t been great, but when he drives it like he did today. . . he hits it a long way,’’ said Gary Woodland, who played with DeChambeau. “He’s always been one of the best putters in the world, and he showed that today. He makes a lot of putts. But when he drives it like that, he makes this golf course a little bit different.’’

DeChambeau credits a lot of his success to an equipment switch last year to a new driver (Krank Formula Fire LD) just before shooting a 58 during the final round of the LIV Golf Greenbrier event.

He won another LIV event in Chicago and remarked to his caddie then, “I can’t wait for April.’’

DeChambeau was so stoked about his equipment, including that new driver, that he wanted to get an early start on Masters prep. He visited Augusta National in early January—when the weather was cold and the course played long—to get comfortable with various lines off the tee. “I’ve got great respect for Augusta,’’ he said then. “I know how difficult it is.’’

LIV golfer Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau tips his cap as he approaches the No. 18 tee box during the first round of the Masters. / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

He visited again on April 1 before heading to last week’s LIV event in Miami, where he finished seventh.

And, clearly, he has come here this week with a different level of respect for the course and a more reserved approach.

When asked again about the 67 comment, he said, laughing: “You’re trying to pigeonhole me into saying that again, aren’t you?

“I’m going to go out and try to shoot the best score I possibly can. Sure, if you want to line up the math that way, that is a perspective you can take. It was a perspective I had, and it cost me a lot of slack, I guess you could say. It definitely hurt some things.

“I shot 65 today and that was one of the best rounds of golf I’ve played in a long time. There’s three more days to go, and I’m not losing sight of that fact. It’s right there in front of me. Just got to go execute.’’

He did that quite well Thursday. And no matter what scorecard designation you go by, it was very impressive.


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.