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19th Hole
News and Opinion

Golf Blogs: Bryson DeChambeau

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Date CreatedMost Popular

Sean Donnelly
Padraig Harrington: Golf becoming no country for short players
Jul 14, 2020 8:18 AM
 
Padraig Harrington is a stickler for hard work and strategic intelligence. Never a bomber or a particularly pristine ball-striker, and never blessed with the sublime natural ability of a Tiger Woods or a Rory McIlroy, the three-time major champion built a decorated professional career on the sheer sweat of his brow, working harder than 99% of his rivals to maximize his performance. It was principally a combination of acute tactical nous, and a voracious competitive intensity and will to win, that propelled the Irishman to the summit of the world game. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that Harrington has expressed reservations regarding the extreme physical and tactical transformation achieved by Bryson DeChambeau over the previous nine months. For those of you who have not been paying attention, DeChambeau has been the talk of the sporting world since the PGA Tour returned from its COVID-19 enforced hiatus last month. He arrived to contest the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 11 June carrying 20 more pounds of muscle than earlier in the year, and he had already made headlines in late 2019 for piling on 25 pounds in advance of the Presidents Cup last December. Padraig Harrington discusses the postponement of The 2020 Ryder Cup pic.twitter.com/28uZzQtov9— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) July 8, 2020 All this bulking-up, of course, was undertaken with the intention of increasing club-head speed and, ultimately, the distance he is capable of hitting the ball off the tee. In that respect the 26-year-old’s muscle-building experiment has been a resounding success. Pick any driving stat you like, he leads it. He heads the PGA Tour in respect of driving distance at an average of 323 yards and paced the pack with a mind-numbing average of 350.6 en route to winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic a fortnight ago. Inevitably the world’s golfing media has been whipped into a frenzy of excitement at the scale and rapidity of DeChambeau’s transformation, intimating his radical new approach has the potential to alter fundamentally the nature of the professional game. Harrington, however, has warned that by redesigning courses to combat the unprecedented lengths being achieved by big hitters, officials risk homogenising golf, rendering the game unplayable for those who do not regularly drive the ball over 300-yards. Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport, Harrington said that DeChambeau’s approach marks a major shift in the game from his own early years, when players who spanked the ball in John Daly-esque fashion were discouraged on the basis that they couldn't control their driving. "Anytime there was somebody an outlier in terms of hitting it a long way - David Love in the 80s for instance - the crowd or the masses of players undermined that play," Harrington recalled. "Because any time a long hitter missed a fairway, they say you missed that fairway because you're a long-hitter, you're hitting it too hard. "When Rory started playing well in 2011, long-hitting was a huge advantage to him. But then all of a sudden, the other long hitters - Bubba Watson, JB Holmes, DJ - they started using their length because they saw Rory do it. And now, you have 30 guys in any event who are exceptionally long. So, generally one of those guys is going to win if he has a good week. And now Bryson has come along. He's taken another leap, jumped out there and now he's super long.” "Going forward, the short hitter will be undermined. They're already becoming the outliers…A good putter does a lot in golf and there's a lot of things that go into it but it's hard on a majority of golf courses for a short-ish hitter - and remember that these kids are trying to proof themselves for the next 15 years - to compete with 30 or 40 guys who hit it like Rory McIlroy in terms of distance, another 15 who hit it like DeChambeau and then one or two who hit it even further. When there are numbers of them, it comes down to which of those guys putts well." It is difficult to dissent from Harrington’s perspective. Until rules officials confront manufacturing interests and begin seriously regulating club and ball technologies to curtail the significance of distance in determining results, golf will increasingly become a game for long drivers and much of the artistry and nuance that animated the performances of players such as Harrington will be lost. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
DeChambeau’s transformation raises questions, but the golf media isn’t asking them
Jul 9, 2020 6:49 AM
 
And so, it finally came to pass; the newly bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau bludgeoned another golf course into submission and walked away with a sixth PGA Tour title at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Sitting at 22-under par with a three-shot, final-round lead, DeChambeau stepped up to the 18th tee at the Detroit Golf Club with victory all but assured. Conventional golfing wisdom, of course, dictated that he should play the percentages; grab a three-wood, whack a nice little drive down the middle, two-putt for par, and go collect a winner’s check. However, DeChambeau has never been one for conventional wisdom and, fittingly given the nature of his performance over the preceding 71-holes, he grabbed driver and uncorked a sizzling 366 yard tee-shot down the middle of the fairway. Two shots later, he birdied to clinch a 3-stroke victory. Bryson complains that being shown acting like a petulant brat hurts his brand. Who wants to be the one to tell him?https://t.co/RwSK4vcUaG via @golfweek— Eamon Lynch (@eamonlynch) July 5, 2020 While this title is, of course, highly significant in the context of DeChambeau’s individual career – ending an 18-month trophy drought and restoring him to the world’s top-10 – it has serious ramifications for golf as a whole. DeChambeau has been the talk of the sporting world since the PGA Tour returned from its COVID-19 enforced hiatus last month. He arrived to contest the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 11 June carrying 20 more pounds of muscle than earlier in the year, and he had already made headlines in late 2019 for piling on 25 pounds in advance of the Presidents Cup last December. All this bulking-up, of course, was undertaken with the intention of increasing club-head speed and, ultimately, the distance he is capable of hitting the ball off the tee. In that respect the 26-year-old’s muscle-building experiment has been a resounding success. Pick any driving stat you like, he leads it. He heads the PGA Tour in respect of driving distance at an average of 323 yards. In Detroit last week, he paced the pack with a mind-numbing average of 350.6, which reportedly broke a record for average measured driving distance at any PGA Tour event, one that had been set by Tiger Woods (341.5) at the 2005 British Open. Indeed, DeChambeau had 14 drives of over 350 yards at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where nobody else in the field had more than five, and his total score since the Tour resumed play on 11 June is almost 20 shots better than the Tour average (his results read: T3-T8-T6-W). On current form, he looks set to dominate the sport for the foreseeable future. But there are surely questions to be asked of the rapidity and scale of the physical transformation DeChambeau has achieved. Sure, we have all read the profile-pieces and watched the social media clips documenting his radical new dietary and fitness regimes, and hard work in the gym has undoubtedly been central to all that he has achieved. However, the question of performance enhancing drugs hovers over all DeChambeau’s recent progress and it is imperative reporters start doing their job enquire about the PGA Tour’s notoriously lax testing regimen rather than simply fawning over long drives. At no point since play resumed a month ago has DeChambeau even been asked has he been tested. Had an elite athlete in any other sport achieved such a drastic physical transformation and rapid uptick in results in such a short space of time, serious questions about doping would be asked. The silence regarding this issue in the PGA Tour press corps is deafening. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Reed silences critics with big win at WGC-Mexico
Feb 24, 2020 5:21 AM
 
Previewing the WGC-Mexico Championship, this blog reflected that one of the most compelling storylines to emerge at Chapultepec would be the nature of Patrick Reed’s response to a recent spate of high-profile public criticism. The week began with Brooks Koepka stating that he thought Reed had cheated in the Hero World Challenge event in the Bahamas last December; it continued with former CBS broadcaster, Peter Kostis suggesting he had seen Reed improve his lie on multiple occasions over the years; and, remarkably, it concluded with Reed managing to block out all the noise to seal an impressive single stroke victory over Bryson DeChambeau in Mexico. Ultimately, the emphatic nature of Reed’s victory amidst a torrent of unfathomable public criticism reflects his extraordinary capacity to thrive under conditions of adversity. From being dismissed from the University of Georgia for allegedly cheating and stealing from teammates, to exploding the US Ryder Cup dressing-room in Paris in 2018, the Texan’s career has been dominated by controversies. Sunday confirmed Reed’s extraordinary capacity to produce his best golf when the world is seemingly lined-up against him. For in addition to a hostile gallery, Reed was obliged to overcome many of the best golfers in the world in order to claim his second WGC title in Mexico. Of the contenders, which included World No. 1 Rory McIlroy; Jon Rahm, who with a victory had a chance to get to No. 1; Justin Thomas, who was looking for his second victory in two months; and Bryson DeChambeau, it was Reed who was the only one not to make a bogey, at least when it truly mattered. His only hiccup came on the final hole, where he arrived with a two-stroke lead and could afford it, signing for a 4-under closing-round 67. DeChambeau had briefly separated himself from the field with birdies at the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. Yet Reed refused to go away; the former Masters champion pulled a stroke back at the 12th and carded three consecutive birdies on the 15th, 16th, and 17th to move two strokes clear following DeChambeau’s bogey on the 17th. A bogey on the last was consequently sufficient for a narrow victory. 72 holes. 98 putts Patrick Reed set a World Golf Championship record for one putts at the #WGCMexico last week. pic.twitter.com/njlwkYKwpE — GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) February 24, 2020 “I felt like I had something to prove to myself coming into this week because I feel like I’ve been playing some really solid golf and just haven’t quite gotten over that hump to get the W,” Reed said. “I knew all I needed to do was continue to try to improve on my golf game, but at the same time just block out all the noise, no matter what it was. “I feel like I’ve been able to do that really well throughout my career, and growing up I’ve always been able to kind of, when I get inside the ropes around the golf course, just focus on what I need to do, and that’s play golf.” Back inside of the world’s top-10, Sunday’s victory has effectively assured Reed of his place in the US Ryder Cup squad for Whistling Straits. Mr Koepka may wish to begin preparing himself early for an uncomfortable reunion. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Soderberg sets record for fastest round in Dubai, DeChambeau put on clock
Jan 26, 2020 4:49 PM
 
At a time of unprecedented competitiveness in the sports media marketplace, slow play is one of the biggest problems effecting golf’s image. From Bryson DeChambeau pacing out a 70-yard approach shot, to Kevin Na spending more than two minutes assessing an 11ft putt, the PGA Tour had no shortage of high-profile shot-clock violations in 2019. Indeed, world No.1, Brooks Koepka and world No.2, Rory McIlroy each called publicly for officials to begin issuing penalty shots against competitors guilty of slowing the pace of play. While the pace of play rules were tightened up during the off-season, the ignominious end to DeChambeau’s final-round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic suggests many pros have yet to fully grasp the mood of the golfing public. The defending champion was in a share of the lead upon reaching the turn on Sunday, but was issued with a slow play warning on the par-5 10th hole. 97 minutes. 75 shots. Sebastian Söderberg on the fastest round in European Tour history.#ODDC pic.twitter.com/4J4TxH9wV1— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 26, 2020 What followed was not pretty: DeChambeau bogeyed his last four holes en route to a four-over finish for the day to drop from T1 to T18 on the leaderboard. Ultimately, Australia’s Lucas Herbert claimed the title, defeating South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a play-off to win his first European Tour accolade. In stark contrast to DeChambeau’s tortoise-like progression, world No.137 Sebastian Soderberg established a new European Tour record for the fastest ever round in Dubai. The Swede was first off on Sunday, and because an odd number of players made the cut he played by himself. Remarkably, he completed his round in just 1 hour and 36 minutes, breaking Thomas Pieters' mark of 1 hour and 59 minutes for the fastest European Tour round on record. “I just tried to play as fast as possible,” Soderberg said after the round. “I felt like it would be a fun thing to do and I didn’t necessarily think that it would hurt my game too much at some points.” “I said, ‘we’ll try to go as fast as possible for the first five-to-six holes’. I took my time on putts and normal shots and just ran in between. I played quite well in the beginning so I just kept going. I think it was a record-breaking time, so it was quite fun.” Soderberg ultimately signed for a 3-over on Sunday, mixing four bogeys with a solitary birdie to finish the week at 10-over-par, 19 shots outside the playoff. Remarkably, he achieved that total without having landed a single fairway and wound-up climbing one place up the leaderboard. Thus, although Soderberg fell short of surpassing Wesley Bryan’s 89-minute round at 2017 BMW Championship at Conway Farms, his theatrics set the absurdity of DeChambeau’s ponderousness in stark relief. The case for a firmly implemented shot-clock could scarcely be stronger. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Koepka cards blistering 66 in Abu Dhabi in first start after three-months out injured
Jan 17, 2020 5:15 AM
 
If there is one thing Brooks Koepka doesn’t need, it’s extra motivation. From the time he railed at ESPN for excluding him from their 2018 ‘Dominant List’, to the occasion when he called for the dismissal of a member of Fox Sport’s press team who had neglected to include him in a promo video, the four-time major champion has consistently shown himself to be, shall we say, sensitive to even the merest hint of a slight – real or perceived. Thus, when Bryson DeChambeau made light of Koepka’s physique on the eve of the duo’s first start of the season at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday, there was reason to suspect the world No.1 would respond forcefully on the golf course. It would have been understandable had Koepka started slowly in the gulf; after all, Thursday marked the occasion of his first competitive round since withdrawing from the CJ Cup in South Korea in October. Instead, he opened with a blistering, bogey-free 6-under 66 to draw to within two-strokes of overnight leaders, Shaun Norris of South Africa and Italy's Renato Paratore. Perhaps most significantly, he finished the opening-round six shots ahead of DeChambeau and arguably saved his best comeback for the clubhouse when he tweeted a picture of his four major titles with caption: “You were right @b_dechambeau I am 2 short of a 6 pack!”. Touché. This was a vintage ball-striking performance from Koepka, who is seeking to claim his first title since winning his sixth European Tour-sanctioned event at the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis in July. Playing alongside (and comfortably out-scoring) Open champion Shane Lowry (70) and Tommy Fleetwood (71), a two-time winner of the gulf event, the world No.1 looked as though he had never been away. Not only was his long game firing as of old, his short game, honed under the expert eye of coach Pete Cowen, provided the highlight of the round, a chip-in from a distinctly unappetizing lie behind the 17th green. In the end, it seemed, the only person unsurprised by the strength of Koepka’s comeback performance was the player himself. Brooks Koepka hasn't played a competitive round of golf for 89 days.He's just shot a bogey-free round of 66.The game's too easy.#ADGolfChamps pic.twitter.com/WB2LQeQ9VQ— William Hill (@WilliamHill) January 16, 2020 “I like the way I've played,” Koepka reflected matter-of-factly. “I've kind of known I've been hitting it really well, putting it really well for a couple weeks. I think the first day I picked up a club, same thing. It felt like I hadn’t left. I’ve done it for years and years. You don’t forget how to swing the golf club.” It would take a brave man to back against the 29-year-old parleying his strong opening-round performance into a first title of the season. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
DeChambeau bulks-up in bid to gain distance off the tee
Dec 6, 2019 9:37 AM
 
Ever since entering into the popular sporting consciousness following a T21, low-amateur finish at the 2016 Masters Tournament, Bryson DeChambeau has been famed for his idiosyncratic approach to golf. A physics graduate possessed of exceptional numerical and statistical skills, DeChambeau acquired early notoriety for competing with bespoke, single-length irons and wedges (all are cut to exactly 37.5 inches). He has since gone on to enrage many fans by calculating, in pain-staking detail, the distances entailed in hitting ostensibly straightforward shots. However, recent news emanating from the DeChambeau camp suggests that science can only get a professional athlete so far; sometimes sheer bulk and brawn is required to gain a competitive advantage. Two-months ago, the 26-year-old weighed-in at just under 200-pounds and struggled to complete 10 arm raises with 10-kilo dumbbells. Heading into this week’s Hero World Challenge event in the Bahamas, he is regularly lifting 25-kilo weights and tips the scale at a not inconsiderable 225-pounds. The logic underlying this new approach? Power and pace off the tee. Talked to a 222-lb Bryson DeChambeau about Bulking Szn. “I’m going to become like a gymnast. I watch online, on Instagram, these gymnast influencers, and that’s where I want to get.”https://t.co/N5BFmwFvBu— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) December 3, 2019 “More distance,” DeChambeau said when asked what prompted him to pack on the pounds. “People are gonna say what they’re going to say… I just wanted to be able to swing faster and more powerful.” Inevitably, the transformation in DeChambeau’s physique in recent weeks has prompted concern among some commentators that he may be packing on too much bulk, a strategy that has undermined the swing-plane of many golfers in the recent past. Indeed, the five-time PGA Tour winner has conceded publicly that “When I got a stronger core, my hands weren’t able to keep up” such was “the force my core was generating. So the last few weeks there’s been this mad dash to get my hands strong to handle what my core can produce.” In this regard it is noteworthy that the DeChambeau ranked 34th on the PGA Tour for driving distance during the 2018/19 campaign, averaging 302-yards off the tee, so he is not exactly short with driver in hand. However, the SMU-graduate was equally keen to stress that his gym regimen is targeted at strengthening those areas of his body, such as his lower back, that are prone to fatigue-related injuries. “My core has gotten substantially bigger relative to the rest of my body,” he said; the aim is to “build-up a resistance against injury.” This is unquestionably a sensible approach; however, DeChambeau’s aspiration to acquire greater distance off the tee can only be understood properly in the context of a deeply disappointing run of form that has seen him slip from No.5 in the world as of 1 January 2019 to No.12 as of the beginning of this week. Indeed, DeChambeau is winless in 10-months since claiming his maiden European Tour title in Dubai in January and missed two cuts and failed to finish higher than T29 at the season’s four majors. Clearly, something in DeChambeau’s game needs to change; whether additional gym work can yield the desired advantage remains to be seen. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Bryson DeChambeau seizes halfway lead at Safeway Open
Sep 28, 2019 7:15 AM
 
When Bryson DeChambeau claimed his maiden European Tour title by seven-strokes away from Matt Wallace on the occasion of his third start of the 2019 season at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in late January, he appeared set for a banner year. The California-native, famed for his unusually scientific approach to golf, had been tipped for great things ever since becoming only the fifth player in the history of the sport to win both the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles in the same year in 2015. For the record, the others four are: Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996), and Ryan Moore (2004). While DeChambeau impressed in claiming his maiden PGA Tour title by a stroke away from Patrick Rogers at the John Deere Classic in the summer of 2017, it was in 2018 that he first showed solid signs of fulfilling the potential demonstrated so richly during his collegiate-level career. After a bright start to the campaign featuring top-5 finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the RBC Heritage Open and the Wells Fargo Championship, he won the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, in a sudden-death playoff against Kyle Stanley and An Byeong-hun. Two further victories followed in the FedEx Cup play-off series at the Northern Trust Open and Dell Technologies Championship, and while he did not claim the FedEx Cup title, he finished the year ranked inside of the world’s top-5and played a crucial role in Jim Furyk’s Ryder Cup squad at Le Golf National. Leading the pack.The @SafewayOpen 36-hole leader @b_dechambeau had a highlight-filled round of 64 on Friday.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/gxv1JjXHgB— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 28, 2019 Put simply, it appeared as though it was only a matter of time until DeChambeau made a breakthrough at major championship level and began troubling Brooks Koepka atop the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings. The emphatic nature of his victory in Dubai on served only to heighten such expectations. Strikingly, however, DeChambeau’s mooted assault on the world No.1 spot never came to fruition; indeed, in 20 subsequent starts across all Tours he managed just one further top-5 finish (a runner-up against a weak field at the 3M Open in July); he went T29-CUT-T36-CUT at the majors, and was never even in with a chance of winning the FedEx Cup. The 26-year-old has consequently slipped back outside of the world’s top-10 and arrived at the Safeway Open in Napa this week fresh off the back of having missed his fifth cut of the year at the Greenbrier Classic. Put simply, he required a strong showing to have any hope of adding gloss to what has been a deeply disappointing second-half of the season. It has been heartening, therefore, to witness DeChambeau to produce something approximating his normal level in Napa over the past two-days, following-up a 4-under opening-round 68 with a stunning 64 on Friday to seize a two-stroke lead away from Nick Watney going into the weekend. Watney is one shot clear of a five-way tie for third place including Canada's Nick Taylor and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli. Significantly, DeChambeau’s second-round comprised a front nine of three-under 33 and a homeward nine of five-under 31; he birdied six out of eight holes between the fifth and the 12th, and hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation. If he can maintain such scoring across the weekend, a long overdue second victory of the season beckons. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
The biggest issue facing golf? "Slow play", says Darren Clarke
Sep 4, 2019 5:00 AM
 
Darren Clarke, a man possessed of a well-documented passion for high-performance sports cars, has a need for speed. As the former Open Champion commented in a 2012 columnfor the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph: ‘I’ve had 15 Ferraris, three Lamborghinis and an assortment of Jags, Bentleys, Mercedes, BMWs and Porsches. The most cars I’ve ever had at once was seven and I’ll admit that was a little excessive. I’m more sensible now.’ It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that Clarke has identified slow play as the biggest issue facing golf as the sport bids to increase its spectator and sponsorship revenue base in an increasingly competitive sports-media landscape. Speaking to the pressahead of the Shaw Classic charity event at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in Calgary, Alberta this week, the Champions Tour professional called on the authorities to implement harsher penalties to encourage players to increase their pace of play. “Just give them (penalty) shots,” Clarke told Reuters. “The guys that are slow give them shots and then all of a sudden they will figure out a routine where they can hit it within the time limit. Clarke reckons McManus is 'Irish Bill Gates' and he'll make success of Ryder Cup https://t.co/lndrUcnNGe— The Irish Sun (@IrishSunOnline) September 3, 2019 “It will stop in one week if they start giving out penalty shots. “It is the bad side of our sport and we need to address it. It’s been a problem, an epidemic.” “The guys that are slow we all know who they are give them shots and they will soon speed up.” Clarke, of course, is far from the first professional to highlight slow play as a blight on the sport in recent weeks. Indeed, the debate reached something of a fever pitchat the Northern Trust Open last month when US Ryder Cup star, Bryson DeChambeau took more than two minutes lining up a putt during the second round. Cue social media outrage and widespread condemnation from players, pundits and fans. “I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” world No.1, Brooks Koepka reflected in an interviewwith the Golf Monthly podcast. "It’s always between two clubs; there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you so you can do all your calculations; you should have your numbers. Obviously if you’re the first guy you might take ten extra seconds, but it doesn’t take that long to hit the ball, especially if it’s not blowing 30. If it’s blowing 30 I understand taking a minute and taking some extra time with some gusts, you know changing just slightly, I get that but if it’s a calm day there’s no excuse. “Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.” Under current rules, players are allotted between 40 and 50 seconds to hit a shot. The first bad time results in a warning, while a second bad time in the same round results in a one-stroke penalty. However, just a single penalty stroke has been handed out in the last two decades, and while players are commonly fined for slow play infractions, many perceive financial penalties as insufficient to encourage multi-millionaire golfers to speed-up. Clarke has thus added his voice to a growing chorus of unrest at the pace of play at the highest level of the game; it’s time for the authorities to respond. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
DeChambeau seeking to recapture play-off magic at Liberty National
Aug 7, 2019 2:09 AM
 
Like any major change to a sporting schedule, the PGA Tour’s decision to stage its five biggest events in five consecutive monthsbetween March and July has created division among fans and players. Beginning with The Players Championship in March, the PGA Tour and R&A now stage each of golf’s four majors by the middle of the summer, running from the Masters in April, the US PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June and The Open in July. Some players, such as Brooks Koepka, profess to thrive on the sense of excitement and momentum generated by the experience of contesting five high-profile events in succession; others, such as Justin Rose, feel the new dispensation renders adequate rest and preparation an impossibility. But regardless of one’s perspective on the changes made to the major schedule, almost all the pros have endorsed the PGA Tour’s decision to condense the season-ending FedEx Cup playoff series into three events over three consecutive weeks in August, combining the Dell Technologies Championship and Northern Trust Open into a single event. In addition to bringing the season to an earlier end, enabling fatigued players to jet off on holiday while the sun is still shining, the new structure gives those pros who win playoff events a better chance of claiming the whole, $10m prize-pot. Dialing in. Comment below with playlist recs for this week in NY. @bose #soundsport free pic.twitter.com/e4ZGTbUsJd— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) August 7, 2019 It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that Bryson DeChambeau has been one of the most vocal advocates of the new structure ahead of the Northern Trust Open at Liberty National this week. The 25-year-old won the first two of four FedEx Cup playoff events a year ago, but still didn’t win the $10 million prize at the end of the “postseason.” “It’s a great thing that they have it only being three weeks rather than four,” DeChambeau saidbefore heading out for a nine-hole practice round on Tuesday. “It’s a long stretch. I mean, I did win two of them [last year] and still didn’t win the FedEx Cup playoffs. That still champs me, but it is what it is.” Indeed, DeChambeau is in need of an uptick in formas the season enters its closing stretch. The five-time PGA Tour winner has missed four cuts and registered just two top-10 finishesin nine starts since tying for 29th at The Masters and has yet to be assured of automatic qualification to the US President’s Cup team. The top 8 on the U.S. points list following next week’s BMW Championship automatically qualify for the team, which puts DeChambeau, who is seventh on the list, in a precarious position. “I think that [captain Tiger Woods] knows that I'm a good enough player to be on the team,” said DeChambeau, who was paired with Woods at last year’s Ryder Cup. “You could have one of the best players in the world and have a terrible stretch for a few weeks, and it's like, 'OK, is it really warranted? Should he be going?'" “I also feel like winning [on the European Tour] in Dubai[at the Omega Desert Classic in January], it didn't count at all. That kind of stinks. It counts in the world rankings,” he said. “You've got a guy that goes over and plays once and wins, it's like, that should kind of count, you would think. But as of right now, I have to work a little harder. But it's OK. I'm used to it. I'm used to having to work harder.” DeChambeau tees-off at 12.44pm New York time alongside Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood on Thursday. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Koepka flexes his muscles to seize early Masters advantage
Apr 12, 2019 12:19 PM
 
It’s not difficult to understand why Brooks Koepka has been attributed with the nickname, ‘Hulk’ by his colleagues in the PGA Tour dressing room. Weighing-in at over 185 pounds composed of toned and refined muscle, the Palm Beach-native has long cut an eye-catchingly hefty figure on the golf-course, exhibiting a physique more akin to that of a light-heavyweight boxer or an NFL line-backer than a regular Tour professional. However, the parallels between Koepka and the legendary green comic-book hero extend well beyond sheer physical bulk; indeed, perhaps the most compelling similarity between the two characters is their capacity to convert a perceived sense of grievance into high calibre performance. Put simply, a riled Brooks Koepka tends to be a dangerous Brooks Koepka, and after having had his title hopes ignored by a curiously indifferent media and his physical fitness questioned by the controversial Golf Channel pundit, Brandel Chamblee, the golfing ‘Hulk’ was not lacking in motivation to perform during the opening-round of the 83rd Masters tournament on Thursday. Commenting on Koepka’s much publicised recent weight-loss programme last week, Chamblee criticised the golfer for placing frivolous bodily aesthetics over golfing performance. Why would a star playing the best golf of his career tinker with his body?The question of Brooks Koepka's weight-loss still looms: https://t.co/vHSfI3I9LA pic.twitter.com/YqKL2B6o9P— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) April 11, 2019 He said Koepka’s decision to lean up and change his body was the "most reckless self-sabotage that I have ever seen of an athlete in his prime". Never mind Koepka being starving, it was Chamblee who was made to eat his words after the 28-year-old took a share of the first-round lead at Augusta thanks to a six-under 66. Furthermore, Koepka hit back at Chamblee after his opening round. He said: "Well, I lift all the time. I lift too many weights and I'm too big to play golf. And then when I lose weight, I'm too small. So, I don't know what to say. "Listen, I'm going to make me happy. I don't care what anybody else says. I'm doing it for me and obviously it seems to work." This was a vintage performance from Koepka who has positioned himself strongly to claim a fourth major championship title in three seasons following back-to-back victories in the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and a triumph at the US PGA Championship last August. The 28-year-old had a quiet front-nine, dropping only a single shot at the par-5 second to reach the turn in 35; however, his scoring ignited on the inward stretch as he converted five birdies in six holes between 10 and 16 to join Bryson DeChambeau atop the overnight leaderboard. Koepka’s form at the Masters has trended continuously upwards over the last three seasons (T33-T21-T11); he is well positioned to maintain such a trajectory over the weekend. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Gary Woodland fires 6-under 67 to take three-shot lead at Kapalua
Jan 5, 2019 12:54 PM
 
Gary Woodland was not much talked about in the lead-up to the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii this week. The 34-year-old qualified for the winners-only event by virtue of having claimed his third PGA Tour title in spectacular fashion in a play-off against Chez Revie at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last February. In addition to having ended a gruelling five-year trophy drought, that triumph catapulted Woodland up to a career-high No.24 in the world rankings, and he finished the season with six further top-10s, including a runners-up finish to world No.1, Brooks Koepka at the CJ Cup in November and a T6 at the US PGA Championship at Bellerive in August. Indeed, the world No.31 arrived in Kapalua with six top-15s (including two top-5s) to his name through his last seven starts and is arguably producing the best golf of his career. Nevertheless, the mainstream golfing media’s characteristic preoccupation with big names meant that Woodland’s title credentials were largely ignored in the lead-up to the Tournament of Champions; 36-holes in, everybody is starting to take notice. Ready for round two in a couple hours. #SentryTOC pic.twitter.com/1hmkbSQI7Q — Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) January 4, 2019 Woodland began his week in impressive fashion on Thursday, shooting eight birdies en route to a 6-under 67 that placed him within a single stroke of Kevin Tway’s surprise overnight lead. He replicated the same score on Friday in order to seize an outright hold of the lead at 12-under going into the final 36-holes. Woodland spent much of the second-round as part of a five-way tie for the lead alongside Tway, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Marc Leishman; however, he burst clear of the chasing-pack following a sensational run of five straight birdies between holes No.11 and 15, and added his eighth birdie of the round on the par-5 18th in order to sign for a second consecutive 67 and a three-stroke advantage. Of course, Woodland’s strong back-nine performance was aided by the fact that none of his birdie putts were converted from longer than 10 feet. But this was more a measure of his confidence, which dates to his work with putting guru Phil Kenyon during the British Open last summer at Carnoustie. "The big deal was just staying patient on the greens," Woodland said. "It's very tough putting with the crosswinds, and I didn't see anything go in early, but nice to see the chip go in on 11 and kind of got me going, propelled me for the rest of the round." With players of the calibre of McIlroy and DeChambeau in hot pursuit of the lead, it is clear that Woodland still has a lot of work left to do if he is to convert his half-way advantage into a tournament victory come Sunday afternoon; however, he has given himself a strong chance of beginning 2019 with a title. [Photo Source: Flickr under CC]
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Sean Donnelly
Sentry Tournament of Champions: DeChambeau and Reed can start 2019 with a bang
Jan 3, 2019 1:51 PM
 
The PGA Tour elite heads to the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii for the opening event of 2019 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions this week. Here follows our top-three bets for the week. Outright winner: Bryson DeChambeau (12/1) Dustin Johnson trades as the bookmakers’ heavy 5/1 favourite to win this one and it is not difficult to understand why. After all, just 12-months have passed since the 33-year-old beat outright runner-up, John Rahm by six strokes to claim the first of three PGA Tour victories in 2018; his power-based playing style is clearly ideally suited to success on a 7000-yard-plus parkland track that places a far higher premium on distance than accuracy. Indeed, Kapalua boasts five par-5s. It cannot be overlooked, however, that Johnson is winless since claiming his 19th PGA Tour accolade at the Canadian Open last July; he has managed just one top-three finish through seven starts over the last five-months, and has long since been displaced decisively at the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings. In this respect, Bryson DeChambeau looks a far more attractive bet at odds as long as 12/1. A winner in three of his past six starts, the 25-year-old sits top five in this field in strokes/gained: off the tee; strokes/gained: short game; strokes/gained/approach; strokes/gained: ball-striking; strokes/gained on par 5s; strokes/gained on par 4s, including par4s from 350-400 yards (five on the course) over the last 24 rounds. Sentry TOC preview: A fun story from Kapalua about betting on Daniel Chopra’s win a decade ago — and how we’re looking for a Chopra this week. https://t.co/x2PctGQDWj — Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) January 2, 2019 The world No.5 secured a solid T26 finish on the occasion of his Kapalua debut last year and looks ideally placed to parley his strong second-half of 2018 into a blistering beginning to the 2019 campaign. Each-Way Bet: Patrick Reed (16/1) Okay, so Reed is a player a lot of golf fans love to hate; indeed, the Texan’s overtly truculent, combative personality renders many punters averse to laying money on his success even when the statistics render a compelling case for doing so. Our advice is to try and overlook any negative feelings you may have towards Reed in light of his behaviour at last year’s Ryder Cup and back the reigning Masters champion as an each-way shot at 16/1. A winner in 2015, a runner up in 2016, and tied-6th in 2017, Captain America’s record at Kapalua is top-class; like him or loathe him, Reed represents undeniable value as an each-way bet. Outsider: Andrew Putnam (80-1) Putnam enjoyed a remarkable 2018 campaign; in addition to claiming his maiden PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship in August, he posted five top-10s and rose almost 300-places up the world rankings to his present position of No.70. The 29-year-old is solid value to make an impact at Kapalua. [Image Source: Flickr under CC]
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