AUGUSTA (Ga.) -- Two years ago, Bryson deChambeau was the reigning U.S. Open winner, having won by six strokes after slamming Winged Foot Golf Club, New York, with prodigious drives of 350 yards. He was the face of golf, promising to mold the sport into his image. At the time he was a 240-pounder with 45 pounds on him who swung so forcefully it hurt to watch.
DeChambeau was a physics student at Southern Methodist University. He preached about how he used scientific research to create a more powerful golf swing. Someday, 400-yard drives will be the norm and many traditional courses will become obsolete. He predicted that the Augusta National Golf Club would play more like a par 72 than its par 67 on the scorecard because of his impressive length off the tee.
The fervent and cheering galleries who followed him were dwarfed by those of any other golfer. (Tiger Woods had been injured.) The demographics of his fan base were also noticeably younger. This was a change that the stewards welcomed. DeChambeau embraced the role of pied-piper, and proclaimed that his golf revolution is in its infancy.
DeChambeau stated that 'it won't stop. There's no way for it to stop.
DeChambeau sauntered alone up the eighth fairway on Wednesday during his final practice session prior to his fifth consecutive Masters. His caddie was 50 yards behind him; he did not have any playing partners. It did not seem that he was accompanied by a single spectator. Twenty-one people were present as he approached the grandstand, which had about 1,000 seats and overlooked the eighth green. No one applauded.
DeChambeau has lost between one and two shirts sizes, as well as 30 to 40 pounds. He admitted that he had lost 20 pounds by giving up his old protein shake and overeating diet.
DeChambeau is a shell of himself in many ways. The golf community has several theories as to why this happened. In 2021, DeChambeau tied for 46th place with three rounds that were 75 or above. In 2022 he missed out on the cut after a second-round eight-over par score of 80. Augusta played like a par-67. He led the U.S. Open in 2021 with nine holes left, but then went on to shoot eight over par and finish the tournament.
Since his win at the U.S. Open in 2020, his best finish in major championships has been a tie.
He had missed the cut at four of his five PGA Tour tournaments before joining the LIV Golf circuit in June last year. Since joining the LIV Golf circuit, he's never placed higher than 10th. His struggles were exacerbated by a wrist surgery and a vertigo attack that was later treated with sinus surgery. His father Jon, who taught him to play golf in November, died aged 63.
DeChambeau, grinning and announcing that he was healthier than ever before when he arrived at Augusta National earlier this week. He encouraged anyone who wanted to become stronger to visit a doctor and have a blood test to measure their food sensitivity. DeChambeau believed that he had been eating foods which caused inflammation and injury.
He said that the highs and lows in his golfing career have taught him 'the only constant in life is inconsistency'. DeChambeau's comments are a bit puzzling, but he has said them ever since he became a rising star of the sport by becoming the N.C.A.A. The Division I Individual Champion and U.S. Amateur champion in 2015.
DeChambeau has not apologized for his comment about shortening Augusta National because of his distance off the tee and shooting eight over par in his final Masters round.
He said: "I don't regret anything." Adding, "People think that I lack respect for the course because of this statement." Are you kidding?
He said: "With the distance that I was hitting, I thought there might be a chance." I have learned from my mistakes.
He has tempered his expectations. When asked if he would win this week, his response was: "I don't want to come here and finish second. But I will say that there is a lot to do before I get there."
DeChambeau left the green surrounding the ninth hole, where he had finished his practice round, in silence despite being surrounded with a few hundred supporters. At one point, he stopped when some fans asked for an autograph. Matthew Fehr (16) of Alamo in California wanted DeChambeau's autograph on the cover of Golf Magazine for March 2021.
Fehr collects autographs from athletes and had DeChambeau do it for him on three occasions, during the peak of DeChambeau's fame.
Fehr was asked to comment on what went wrong in DeChambeau's career over the past few years. He said, 'It's cool to see someone hit the ball so far. It definitely caught the attention of the fans.' But I don’t think his diet and workout regimen were sustainable. Or healthy.
Fehr said: "You know, there are checks in athletics."