Pay attention, because we’re witnessing something special.
That’s the opinion of golf’s original disruptors, the professional long-drivers, who have watched Bryson DeChambeau detonate drives, power-lift trophies, and generally turn golf upside-down.
“It’s kind of uncharted territory,” says five-time world long drive champion Jason (Golfzilla) Zuback. “We long-drive guys were on the fringe, and PGA TOUR guys said, ‘Oh, that’s cool, but it would never work on TOUR.’ Bryson is now doing a lot of the things that we did, and I don’t think you could argue that he hasn’t gained an advantage.”
Indeed, he looks like the man to beat at this week’s Masters Tournament at Augusta, just as he might at the Masters next April. Two green jackets in five months would be a neat trick.
The first sonic boomlet of the revolution came as DeChambeau, who gained 40 pounds of muscle in his quest to essentially bio-hack the game, won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July. At one point, playing in the group behind Bubba Watson at the par-5 14th hole, he outdrove the one-time TOUR distance leader by 35 yards. Matthew Wolff, who is almost as long as DeChambeau but with a flatter trajectory, finished second at Detroit Golf Club.
When history repeated itself (sort of) at the U.S. Open in September, DeChambeau beating Wolff by six, there could be no doubt. His plan to deploy cartoonish length to move the odds in his favor was working, even at rough-choked Winged Foot. Who could have predicted that? Now he rolls into Augusta National, which has always looked much more like his type of course.
Speaking to Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz, the hosts of the Supbar podcast, Jordan Spieth said he was having lunch with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas when the subject of DeChambeau came up. “I was like, this guy has to lose the Masters to not win the Masters,” Spieth said.
Other TOUR pros have also taken notice, giving DeChambeau respect where it’s due.
No one, though, can appreciate what he has achieved quite like the long-drive set, men whose tee shots are accompanied by heavy metal rock, primal screams and stage smoke. Their niche sub-specialty hasn’t always matched up well with tournament golf, although it’s been entertaining.
Back in 2005, Zuback and fellow long-driver Bobby Wilson won the Champions Challenge at Utah’s Thanksgiving Point, hosted by Johnny Miller. The two-man scramble featured teams that were by turns formidable (PGA TOUR pros Dean Wilson and Mike Weir were the defending champions) and laughable (Scott Simpson and comedian Bill Murray finished second to last).
Source: PGA tour