If at first you don’t succeed, blame the equipment. At least, if you’re Bryson DeChambeau, you might.
The 2020 U.S. Open champion and long-drive specialist got off to a sluggish start in the 149th British Open at Royal St. George’s on Thursday. On a day when 47 players finished under par, DeChambeau put up a 1-over-par 71.
Things could have been worse. His prime-time television adversary, Phil Mickelson, carded an 80, which tied for last in the field to leave him 16 shots off the lead. DeChambeau is only seven shots back, not especially in or out of contention.
As part of the process, which included five bogeys and four birdies, DeChambeau hit just four of the 14 fairways. And afterward, he blamed the arrow, not the Indian -- his driver.
No really, Brooks Koepka, you can’t make this stuff up.
“If I can hit it down the middle of the fairway, that’s great, but with the driver right now, the driver sucks,” DeChambeau said afterward.
“It’s not a good face for me, and we’re still trying to figure out how to make it good on the mis-hits. I’m living on the razor’s edge, like I’ve told people for a long time.”
Some might suggest blaming your equipment is not a particularly good face, either. Then again, Brian Zeigler might have been comforted to hear those words. Zeigler, DeChambeau’s instructor, is carrying the bag this week, nearly two weeks after “Bison” split with his longtime caddie Tim Tucker.
To repeat: Zeigler is just the looper, not the driver.
DeChambeau’s driver is not your everyday piece of golf furniture. The hefty 27-year-old with the hasty swing uses a Cobra Radspeed driver, 46 inches long with 5 degrees of loft. The lumber is made specifically for DeChambeau, but Cobra research and development representatives have been hard-pressed to find specs to his satisfaction.
“He has never really been happy, ever. Like, it’s very rare where he’s happy,” Cobra tour operations manager Ben Schomin told Golfweek. “Everybody is looking for a magic bullet. Well, the magic bullet becomes harder and harder to find the faster you swing and the lower your loft gets.”
In 2021, Cobra has provided seven prototype heads for DeChambeau’s driver. Many players might not go through seven driver heads in their entire career, but the cerebral DeChambeau is forever tinkering, experimenting and fine-tuning.
Some might suggest toning down the swing, or adjusting the philosophy might be prudent. Not DeChambeau.
“I've realized this for years now,” said DeChambeau, who has eight PGA Tour wins. “This has happened since 2016-17 when players stopped drawing it.
“There's not very many golfers that draw it anymore. It's not because of spin rate … It's literally the physics and the way that they build heads now. It's not the right design, unfortunately, and we've been trying to fix it (indiscernible) results yet."
Schomin suggested, at this point, he is neither surprised nor offended by DeChambeau’s critical outbursts. “It’s like an 8-year-old that gets mad at you,” Schomin said. “They might fly off the handle and say, ‘I hate you.’ But then you go. ‘Whoa, no you don’t.’”
Update: On Thursday evening, DeChambeau issued an apology via Instagram, where he called his post-round comments "unprofessional" and said that his equipment team is "like family." Here is his statement:
More Day 1 British Open Coverage from Morning Read:
- Bryson DeChambeau Rips Gear, Says Driver 'Sucks' After Uneven Opening Round
- Rory McIlroy's Putter, And History, Work Against Him in Round 1
- Spieth (65) Enjoys Vintage Opening Round in Quest to Cap Comeback Season
- Louis Oosthuizen, Jordan Spieth Start Fast in Round 1
- Phil Mickelson Tied for Last After Shooting Ugly 80
- Cink Eyes Follow-up Act to 2009 Open Title Over Tom Watson
- England's Richard Bland Relishes First Tee Shot Thursday Morning
-Weather is Always a Factor at British Open -- Especially This Week