LAS VEGAS – Big bad Bryson DeChambeau continued his assault on golf courses the country over by bashing TPC Summerlin into submission in Thursday’s first round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
But he was far from the only one that battered the desert layout.
A day after he shot 59 on his own ball during the pro-am – and missed an 8-footer for a 58 on the last hole – DeChambeau putted for eagle five times, made a career-best five consecutive birdies and matched his lowest round on the PGA Tour with a bogey-free 9-under-par 62 to grab the lead among the early finishers.
It wasn’t a fair fight on a windless, sun-drenched day as DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open at rugged Winged Foot in his last start, hit nine tee shots past the 300-yard barrier, including a 365-yard blast that reached the green on the par-4 7th. He is the first player in the ShotLink Era that began in 2003 to drive the green.
The No. 6 player in the world also drove the 315-yard par-4 15th – with a 3-wood. The longest iron he used for an approach was a 6-iron – and that was for his second shot on the 583-yard par-5 13th. Seven of his nine birdies came from within six feet and he was equally satisfied with two 10-foot putts he made for par.
“There’s no wind out here for the most part and I feel like you can bomb it everywhere and hit wedges close,” DeChambeau said. “I didn’t hit it great today, but I still played really, really good. Just need to clean it up a little bitter. Just trying to hit it straighter.
“I just kept trying to keep myself in the flow like I was in the U.S. Open and just pounding forward, just keep making birdies, keep making birdies.”
Loads of birdies were to be had and the field was averaging 67.8 in the early going. Harold Varner III and Austin Cook each shot 63 to end one back of DeChambeau. Emiliano Grillo made six consecutive birdies en route to a 64, a score matched by Brian Stuard, Andrew Landry and Rob Oppenheim.
“You have to make birdies,” Varner said. “But you have to be patient. You can’t force it. You never know where you’re going to rip off five birdies in a row.”
DeChambeau, who won here in 2018, started his quest for a second Shriners title, his third title of 2020 and his eighth PGA Tour title alongside fellow bashers Cameron Champ (shot 67) and Matthew Wolff (68). The three combined to hit 28 tee shots that traveled at least 300 yards.
“It’s amazing to see the power that’s out here now,” DeChambeau said. “I think that’s a testament to the new generation that’s coming up and what it’s going to be like in the future.”
Chesson Hadley had a ringside seat for DeChambeau’s 365-yard belt on the seventh hole. Hadley was told to back off his putt by his caddie, who saw DeChambeau’s launch come into the green. The ball landed in the rough just short of the green and bounced onto the putting surface. DeChambeau felt terribly about hitting into the group 365 yards away and apologized to the players.
But Hadley said all was good.
“The only thing that hurt was my ego,” Hadley said.
The feeling is mutual among many of his colleagues since DeChambeau, who led the PGA Tour in driving distance last season at 322.1 yards a pop, packed on nearly 50 pounds of mass and increased his ball and swing speed numbers. He’s having his way with most courses he’s playing.
“That’s five birdies right there and it makes the golf course a lot easier,” DeChambeau said of his five eagle attempts. “That lowers the par to 67 out here, and that’s just the number for me. If I shoot 69 or 70 I feel like I shot a couple over. And it can happen and that’s the advantage of power in this game now, that you can do those sorts of things.”