LAS VEGAS – Bryson DeChambeau was disappointed with a few shots he hit during Friday’s second round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
He appreciated, however, a shot from the other side of the pond fired his way by colleague Matt Fitzpatrick.
After grabbing a share of the lead in the BMW Championship in England, the flagship event of the European Tour, Fitzpatrick had a few choice words for what DeChambeau is doing to the game with his eye-popping power.
Fitzpatrick called on golf’s governing bodies to clamp down on the distance gains DeChambeau has achieved since he transformed his swing and body after adding nearly 50 pounds of mass. Fitzpatrick said DeChambeau is making a “mockery” of the game, that the only thing he can compete with DeChambeau is putting, and “that’s just ridiculous.”
“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way in my opinion,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a bio-mechanist and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact.
“I could put another two inches on my driver. I could gain that, but the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill, he’s just taking the skill out of it in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft.”
After DeChambeau added a 4-under-par 67 on Friday at TPC Summerlin to his opening-round 62 to stand one shot out of the lead through 36 holes, he took the high road as he addressed Fitzpatrick’s comments.
“It’s a compliment to me honestly,” DeChambeau said after Fitzpatrick’s words were read to him. “A year ago I wasn’t hitting it anywhere near as far as I am today. It took a lot of work, a lot of hours to work through the night to figure out a lot of this stuff.
“I would say it actually takes more skill to do what I’m doing. I still believe I’m hitting it straighter than what I was last year with the distances that I was hitting back then. So I actually appreciate those comments.”
DeChambeau said he thinks Fitzpatrick is looking out for a certain set of players, but DeChambeau isn’t going to change his ways. In fact, he’s working to get longer and could add a 48-inch shafted driver to his bag for the Masters.
“My whole goal is to play the best golf I possibly can, and this game has given me the opportunity to showcase something pretty special,” he said. “I feel like I’ve started to go down a path that’s allowed me to have an advantage over everyone, and I think that is a skillset when you look at it.
“For me out there today, I was still able to hit a lot of fairways at 360 yards. That’s tough to do with drivers. If anything, it’s more difficult to hit more fairways the way I’m doing it with the rules the way it is today. It’s more built for players like Matthew Fitzpatrick and his distances and players like that.
“So from my perspective, I think it takes a little bit more skill to do what I’m doing, and that’s why there are only a few people doing it out here.”
And DeChambeau has other skills to call upon, too – he’s putting very well and he has improved his short-iron play. And DeChambeau is more than ready to lend a helping hand should Fitzpatrick seek it.
“I would love to have a conversation with him about it and say, ‘Hey, man, I would love to help out. Why couldn’t you do it, too?’ You see Rory (McIlroy) and DJ (Dustin Johnson) doing the same thing, too. They’re seeing that distinct advantage, and I feel like it’s great for the game of golf.”
As for his own golf at the Shriners, DeChambeau overcame a dull start and was banging the ball again, sending 10 tee shots past the 300-yard mark, including seven of at least 350 yards.
In the first round, he became the first player to drive the green at the par-4 seventh when he hit his tee shot 361 yards to 14 feet and made the putt for eagle. In the second round, he drove the green again, this time hitting his tee shot 373 yards to 26 and making the putt for eagle.
His was impressive on the par-5 16th, too, as he hit a drive 367 yards and then a wedge from 152 yards to 10 feet and then made the putt for eagle.
He’s one shot back of Patrick Cantlay (65), Martin Laird (63), Brian Harman (63), Peter Malnati (62) and Austin Cook (65).
“I definitely left some shots out there and I made a few great shots,” he said. “So can’t be too displeased with that and look forward to hitting a couple more shots better and making a few putts that I need to that I didn’t middle of the round. Clean that up tomorrow and hopefully I can keep going low.”