DETROIT — Bad news, PGA Tour. Bryson DeChambeau has already been the best player, if you use a silly stat like scoring average to judge, since the Tour returned to action about a month ago.
And after posting a 66 in the opening round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic — placing him a shot behind leaders Doc Redman, Scott Stallings and Kevin Kisner — DeChambeau said he’s not particularly thrilled with his game right now. The barrage of birdies, the drives of 350-plus yards, the consistent rounds in the 60s … it’s all slightly above average in his eyes.
The report card is on its way home and DeChambeau the teacher (and mad scientist) insists that DeChambeau the student is nothing special.
“Playing the golf that I want to play, if I was to give myself a grade, and I know people are going to say things about this and people are going to chirp and chime in on what they think — oh, he’s playing unbelievable golf — I’d really say it’s B-game right now,” DeChambeau said, after posting seven birdies and an eagle at Detroit Golf Club. “It’s not 100 percent, but it’s not bad, either. I’m still able to get it in, I’m able to score, which is great, but I still have to refine some things.”
While DeChambeau might not think his game has been stellar, his feats are becoming the stuff of legends. For example, on the 571-yard No. 15, DeChambeau bombed a drive 376 yards down the left side of the fairway, knocked an iron into the green, then dropped a 33-foot putt for eagle.
Earlier, he said he “ballooned” his shot on No. 13 — to the tune of 351 yards. DeChambeau was trying to reach the front of the hole, about a 370-yard poke, and was miffed that he didn’t hit it exactly the way he wanted.
Not surprisingly, DeChambeau is second in strokes gained off the tee after the event’s first round, but here’s something that might surprise you — he was first in strokes gained putting.
And he continues to explain that he’s simply using his newfound distance advantage to play the odds, plodding until the time is right for luck to come his way.
“I’m again trying to be the casino and give myself the best opportunity to win. Having 9-iron into those par 5s, it’s definitely nice to be able to attack par-5 flags rather than kind of move away from them,” he said. “There’s a couple holes where I can get it up close to the green and just chip it on there and make a putt. I’ve just got to keep hitting my driver good and getting more comfortable with the driver and if that happens, it’s going to be a fun week.”
His training regimen has become legendary, too. DeChambeau claims to drink at least a half-dozen protein shakes a day and consumes 3,500 calories to keep adding on to a frame that’s 40 pounds heavier than it was at Christmas.
It’s not like DeChambeau was chopped liver before this recent fitness frenzy. He’s already been in the winner’s circle five times on Tour, not to mention that he won the 2015 U.S. Amateur, and he’s only 26 years old. But to keep bashing the ball ahead of the field — his average drive on Thursday was a whopping 358 yards — it’s hard to believe that DeChambeau doesn’t believe his game is near its peak.
When he puts stretches together like he did on Thursday — making the turn at 35, but then posting four birdies and the eagle on the back, only a bogey on No. 18 keeping him out of the lead — there are few in the world who can keep him down.
“Well, I know it can spark at any time, just like this back nine, besides that final bogey that really got me a little agitated, you know. It’s going to put a little fire in my belly for tomorrow,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a good place. It’s fun to be able to play good golf not having your A-game.”