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Players react to Bryson DeChambeau’s new look: ‘It was nuts’

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Players react to Bryson DeChambeau’s new look: ‘It was nuts’

    Written by Helen Ross @helen_pgatour

    Bryson DeChambeau’s best drives from the Charles Schwab Challenge

    HILTON HEAD, S.C. – Webb Simpson’s reaction was just like the rest of ours. He was stunned when he saw Bryson DeChambeau 2.0 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

    “I put my hands on his shoulders last week, just because he looks like a different person,” Simpson said.

    RELATED: Analyzing bulked-up Bryson's big drives

    DeChambeau came off the COVID-19 break about 40 pounds heavier. But he certainly wasn’t sitting on the sofa eating junk food during the hiatus. He was working out, downing five protein shakes a day and transforming his body into one that would make an NFL linebacker proud.

    Thank goodness Puma had some extra XL shirts on hand.

    At Colonial Country Club, DeChambeau averaged 340.4 yards off the tee and tied for third, missing a putt on the 18th that would have put him in a playoff. He now leads the PGA TOUR in driving distance at 323.8 – which leaves him on pace to snap the highest single-season total in history.

    “It’s really impressive to be able to change your body that fast and put on that -- you know, that much weight and still not have it affect your game in a negative way,” Simpson said. “... I mean, he was tearing apart Colonial in terms of distance and still hitting it really straight.

    “So, a lot of props to Bryson for being able to do that and letting his body handle it.”

    Not everyone sees the weight gain – DeChambeau expects to settle in at 230 pounds now that the TOUR has resumed play – and power surge as sustainable, though. He says his spin rate is now in the 4,000 range, and the man they call the Mad Scientist has had to deloft all his irons.

    World No. 1 Rory McIlroy saw the transformation up close and personal when he played with DeChambeau on Sunday. The SMU grad hit several drives that afternoon that left the Northern Irishman and his caddie stunned – like the one into the wind on the 11th hole that flew McIlroy’s own lengthy poke by an estimated 40 yards.

    “It was nuts. It's unbelievable,” he said. “I mean, it's impressive what he's doing. There's going to be courses where it works, and there's going to be courses where it won't. I can't see him hitting that many drivers this week, for example.”

    Whatever happens at Harbour Town, the tight Pete Dye layout, during the RBC Heritage, don’t expect McIlroy to start the same kind of fitness regimen. He says he feels more supple and has more speed when he is lighter. As for DeChambeau, well, more power to him.

    “Look, it's impressive,” McIlroy said. “He's big. He's sort of gone down a path, and he's .... got a conviction, and he's following it. That's what he's done. He's always thought outside the box and thought a little differently to most people.

    “He's really put his mind at wanting to get longer, and he's definitely done that.”

    Rickie Fowler appears to be of the same mindset. He spent the first month of the three-month break working out six days a week. During those sessions, he often used a weight vest that clocks in at 45 or 50 pounds – and he says he wouldn’t want to carry that much extra weight around all day long.

    “Just walking a golf course with that extra weight, let alone doing some workout at the house, that's enough for 45 minutes to an hour,” Fowler said. “It's been really impressive to see what he's done over, say, the last year or so with his transformation and obviously some serious gain in speed and power.

    “But it will be interesting to see kind of ... where the peak is. Where does it become almost counterproductive as far as like too much speed, where dispersion becomes too great?”

    Simpson joked that he’d probably put on 75 pounds if it meant he could add 20 mph in ball speed. He has tried to get stronger in recent years and has seen some more modest gains.

    “But our games are different,” Simpson said. “I have to rely on shot making, distance control, more than Bryson. He was already long before he did all this. I've never really been long.

    “So, I've got to go about it, I think, in a more methodical way than he's doing. Yeah, it definitely makes me think it's possible. We'll see. He thinks he can get stronger. So, time will tell.”

    Jim Furyk, the two-time RBC Heritage champ who recently turned 50, also plays a game predicated on accuracy rather than length. But that doesn’t mean he’s not intrigued by the game’s power players like the beefed-up DeChambeau.

    “I think what he's doing is really interesting, to be honest with you,” Furyk says. “... I only saw him hit one shot on TV last week. It was, I think, on the second day off the first tee. I think his ball speed was 185. The player that hit right in front of him was Dustin Johnson, and his ball speed was 177.

    “So, for me, that was kind of an eye-raiser. Dustin is pretty big, pretty strong, athletic, hits it pretty far. If you're gaining 8 miles an hour on Dustin Johnson, that's moving it.

    “It's interesting. I think we're in an era right now with golf, the way it's played, the way our golf courses are set up, it's quite an advantage to be able to hit the ball far like that. I can see why so many guys are kind of chasing distance, using technology, using launch monitors for launch and spin for equipment to gain distance.

    “It's definitely affecting the game.”

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