Bryson DeChambeau and the British Open - they don’t exactly go together like a horse and carriage.
The horse - DeChambeau - is to the game of golf what Mark McGwire was to baseball in 1998. His bulked-up blasts carry through the air like Richard Branson’s rocket plane. His strength allows him to ignore bunkers, fear no rough and make no apologies. His long-distance demeanor knows no boundaries.
The carriage - the British Open - is links golf, where wind and weather can compromise the strongest of airborne projectiles, where rough can be radical, where the ground offers the safest passage. Adjustments have to be made. And to this point, the player and the playing field have not bonded.
DeChambeau has competed in three British Opens, missed the cut in two and tied for 33rd in the other. Of course, he is early in his career. He would not be the first to take bumps and bruises, to falter before figuring things out. Certainly, he is intrigued.
“Yeah, I mean, I don't know why,” DeChambeau, 27, said at his Tuesday press conference. “I played well in the Walker Cup (as an amateur) when it was here…. I played really great golf. Maybe the conditions have been favorable when I played over in the Walker Cup, where I do pretty well with not as windy conditions and firmer ground environments.
“The times I've played in the British Opens in the past, I think they've been a little wet and windy. I usually struggle on that in general. I think that hopefully if we get a little bit of a dry week, I can get the wind under control in my brain, hopefully I can have a good week.”
The 2020 British Open was postponed because of the pandemic. In the time since DeChambeau played in the 2019 event at Royal Portrush to this week at Royal St. George’s, he has packed on pounds and pumped up distances. He is bringing his freshly fortified bomb-and-gouge game overseas for the first time.
“The thing is you can't miss it out here very often,” said DeChambeau, who won the 2020 U.S. Open last September. “If you do you're in the hay and it's not easy to get out of. This is the first time I've taken my length to links golf. We'll see how that plays. Maybe it plays out well; maybe it doesn't. I'll keep trying to figure it out.”
Another long hitter - Tiger Woods - got it solved. Woods tweaked his game to fit the territory. As his career went along, he employed a low-slung shot he dubbed a “stinger,” and used irons and fairway woods off the tees. At the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool, Woods won while hitting only one driver all week, one of his three British Open championships.
But it doesn’t appear DeChambeau is ready to embrace such a concept, not yet, not at Royal St. George’s. Rather, sort of sounds like he is asking the British coastal conditions to compromise. Sort of sounds like the horse still plans to be in full gallop.
“I look at Tiger and what he did back in the early 2000s … that's an interesting thought process that may come into play here soon,” DeChambeau said. “But there's too many places out here where covering some of those bunkers is a huge advantage no matter what, so that's kind of the game plan I'm going to take as of right now.”
That said, DeChambeau made it clear there is one game he is not going to play this week - the “he said, he said” feud going on with Brooks Koepka, which continues to get media play. During a press conference prior to DeChambeau, Koepka answered inquiries about the ongoing antagonism and indicated he would continue to “take my shots.”
DeChambeau, who recently teamed with Aaron Rodgers to beat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in television’s The Match, said he has no interest in advancing the insult match with Koepka.
“He can say whatever he wants,” DeChambeau said. “I think he said something back at Liberty National not upholding something. I don't know what he's talking about in that regard. Maybe that's on me, maybe I didn't.
“I really don't remember anything about that. We just had a conversation that I really don't know what happened, because we haven't really bantered back and forth until now. So it's like why is that happening now.
“Besides that, I'm just here to play golf and focus on that. If we want to keep bantering back and forth, obviously being respectful and keeping lines where they aren't getting crossed, yeah, I think it's fun and a good environment for people in golf.”
More Morning Read Coverage of 2021 British Open:
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- Bettors' Roundtable: Favorites, Sleepers, Best Bets from Pool of Experts
- No Course Embraces Quirks Quite Like Royal St. George's'
- Shane Lowry Can Make Rare History This Week
- The Perfect Venue to Cap 2021 Major Season? It's Royal St. George's
- Americans Need to Man Up an Deal With British Open Travel Protocols
- Elements of Style: What Pros Will Wear This Week at British Open
- Gary Player Says St. George's is Easiest of Open Venues