OLIVER HOLT: Big shot Bryson DeChambeau humbled by Augusta

OLIVER HOLT: Bryson DeChambeau has had to choke down a lot of humble pie at Augusta as pre-tournament favourite struggles to get to grips at the Masters

  • Bryson DeChambeau went into the Masters as the pre-tournament favourite
  • In the build-up he said par for him at Augusta should be 67 and not 72 
  • But the American has been forced to down a lot of humble pie at Augusta 
  • The 27-year-old is down in 50th position 14 shots behind leader Dustin Johnson 

On  Friday evening at Augusta, Jon Rahm was asked to cast his mind back to the long delays in play earlier in the day at the third hole after pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau had sprayed successive tee shots into the rough. 

‘Were you involved in the search for Bryson’s ball at all?’ a journalist said to Rahm. Rahm furrowed his brow. ‘Which one?’ he said.

It may well have been inadvertent but if two words told the cruel story of how pride came before a fall for the man who was the biggest story in golf going into the US Masters this year, they were encapsulated in Rahm’s innocent response. Four days at Augusta National gives you time to eat an awful lot of humble pie but DeChambeau has had no choice but to choke it down.

Bryson DeChambeau has struggled at Augusta after going in as the pre-tournament favourite

DeCheambeau barely avoided the cut and is 14 shots down on leader Dustin Johnson

Many no doubt enjoyed his discomfort. Some don’t like the fact that he is not afraid to be different, that he is unapologetic about his scientific approach to the sport and that he has embraced power as his friend over finesse and elegance. He is not one of the boys. 

Not part of the gang with DJ, Brooks and Justin. He is a major winner but it still feels as if he is an outsider.

Golf still treats him like some sort of arriviste. It is as if some dismiss him as a freak show. But there is something compelling about DeChambeau, precisely because he is different. There is something box office about his great heave of a swing. 

There is something magnificently unapologetic about the way he tries to beat the course as well as his opponents.

Even so, this purgatory that assailed him at Augusta, he asked for it. Still high on winning the US Open by six shots in September, still feeling like the king of the world, still feeling like he was invincible, still feeling like the game was at his mercy, DeChambeau had said in the build-up to the Masters that he felt par for him at Augusta should be 67, not 72, because he would overpower the course.

Greg Norman, who knows a few things about twists of fortune down in Georgia, smiled at that and called it a kiss of death. ‘The golfing gods hear that in the pine trees at Augusta,’ he said. And they did hear it. And they decided to teach DeChambeau a lesson. Even before his second round was over, far from becoming the procession he had envisaged, the Masters had become an ordeal.

By the time he began his third round, he was a physical and emotional wreck. After a topsy-turvy first round that included a double-bogey seven at the par-five 13th, DeChambeau complained of sickness and he and members of his inner circle were tested for Covid-19 on Friday night and received negative results.

‘I’m not good, unfortunately,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what it is. There’s something in my stomach that’s just not doing well. I just feel kind of dull and numb out there, just not fully aware of everything, and making some silly, silly mistakes for sure. Golf is golf. You’re going to have stuff go on, but I want to fix my body.’

He said par for him at Augusta should be 67 and not 72 as he would overpower the course

However he has been forced to eat some humble pie as he has struggled at the famed course

By then, he knew that far from contending to win the tournament, he was struggling to make the cut. They never did find the ball from his first tee shot on the third and he made triple bogey there. He finished his delayed second round Saturday morning on level par, which was right on the cut line. He had to rely on Rafael Cabrera-Bello failing to birdie the final hole in the final group to sneak in.

And so he began his third round, as he might have expected before the tournament, teeing off at the same time as Rahm and Dustin Johnson. The only problem was that they were teeing off on different holes, Rahm and Johnson on the first, DeChambeau on the 10th. And DeChambeau was nine shots back. And as the day went on, the gap between him and Johnson got wider and wider.

DeChambeau went out towards the end of the morning with Tony Finau and Jimmy Walker and he started in defiant and belligerent mood. He wore a pink and white floral number that would not have looked out of place in a Hawaiian shirt contest at an English pub but he slammed his first tee shot straight down the fairway on the 10th, a rarity for him at this year’s tournament.

On Sunday he will be playing for pride rather than in contention of the green jacket

When he sank his 12-foot birdie putt and left another attempt to gain a stroke an inch short of the cup on the 11th, some wondered whether he might be about to mount a charge after all but those hopes sagged on the 13th when he dragged his approach to the green wide to the right and it trundled down a bank to the edge of a gurgling tributary of Rae’s Creek.

His attempt to recover with a chip on to the green failed and he was left with a 40-foot putt for birdie. He salvaged a par from the wreckage but he bogeyed the next hole and sank back to level par, which is where he stayed for some time. And now his round was accompanied not by optimism or ambition but by heaving sighs of frustration and what looked like resignation.

By the time he turned for home on his back nine, he was tied for 50th place and still becalmed on even par. Johnson was 14 strokes ahead of him. That humble pie must have been starting to taste awfully sour.




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