Science pays off in DeChambeau's first win
July 16, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Bryson Dechambeau extended highlights | Round 4 | John Deere
SILVIS, Ill. – Some have called him a mad scientist and plenty have scoffed at his unorthodox methods - but perhaps in the end, Bryson DeChambeau is just pure genius.
For all his quirkiness, the former U.S. Amateur winner and college standout, proved the wacky way he does things can win on the PGA TOUR with his breakthrough performance at the John Deere Classic.
Dressed in his customary Ivy cap, a tribute to Ben Hogan and his fellow SMU alum Payne Stewart, DeChambeau has never been afraid to be different.
And when he buried a birdie on the 72nd hole, his celebration was clearly a sign he felt vindicated in a world where all one needs is a Twitter account to throw barbs at someone different.
DeChambeau does not walk the rank and file. He rocks a set of single-length irons and wedges. His swing stays on a single plane. He talks in complex physics terms as he dissects every little piece of data he can.
Golf to him, is a science. And while no one has ever really figured the sport out, he is certainly going to keep trying.
“There has been a lot of talk,” DeChambeau said of the doubters.
“(This) is vindication I think. It's definitely nice to have me win under such conditions.”
Bryson DeChambeau news conference after winning John Deere
The 23-year-old, who became the 19th player to make the John Deere Classic his first career win, admitted some people routinely give him grief.
While there is also an outpouring of support at most venues, an event doesn’t go by without someone suggesting he should go back to more traditional shaft lengths.
“I just throw it to the side and say, don't even worry about it,” he says.
“You're going down the road you've chosen and you're comfortable with it, and you know it's going to in the end be the right thing.”
To hear DeChambeau describe the road he is traveling can sometimes require being a physics major, as he is.
But the essence is to try to simplify a complex game using the available data.
“I try to understand every single variable in this whole game of golf,” he says.
“It's very, very difficult. But as time goes on, the more you can understand the variables the more consistent you can become just by understanding them. That's what we've tried to accomplish.”
DeChambeau believes the only player who may have come close is Tiger Woods. Yet for the 79-time PGA TOUR winner it was more of an art than a science.
Woods, at his best, played with incredible feel.
“Tiger figured it out, how to hit certain wedge shots into certain flags with a certain spin, certain trajectory. He just knew it. He could do it with his hands. He trained his hands. It was unbelievable,” DeChambeau adds.
“I've always wanted to try and accomplish that, but I just go about it in a very methodical, scientific method research kind of a way.”
Not only does DeChambeau believe his methods will prove great for his career, he claims his motivation is also for the rest of us out there. The average amateur. Even the hackers amongst us if you will.
He wants to be part of bringing new players to the game. Showing people you don’t have to swing with the precision of an Adam Scott, or putt with the aplomb of Jordan Spieth. You should do what works for you. And here is his method that might just be good for you.
He hit 14 of 14 fairways in the opening round at TPC Deere Run. On Sunday, he hit 17 of 18 greens. With less moving parts in the swing comes more consistency. And every one of us could use more consistency, right?
“I want to make it easier for the amateurs. I think there is an easier way out there and people just haven't figured it out. I hope I'm on the right track. I really believe I am,” he says looking as confident as Woods did in his prime.
“People may think my golf swing is really weird and funky, but I think it's one of the most consistent swings out here. If you look at in its entirety in slow motion, there are not very many moving parts.
Bryson DeChambeau's slo-mo swing is analyzed at John Deere
“I'm super confident with it. It makes it easy to repeat every single time.”
But there were times where he started to doubt himself. Not that long ago in his continued efforts to find the perfect swing, things had gone awry.
As the other 20-somethings continued to dominate the TOUR, he missed eight-straight cuts from mid-April to mid-June this season.
In his own words, he thought he should be “killing it” but he was far from doing so.
After the eighth missed cut in a row at the U.S. Open, he decided to tinker a little less with his swing and his putting and try to get back to his basics.
His personal testing had him swinging longer. And trying to hit it a little harder. It wasn’t working.
On the greens, he’d tried a few things, including side saddle putting for a while, but nothing was getting the ball in the hole like it should. He sat 195th on the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting prior to this week. At TPC Deere Run, he was second in the field.
By the Travelers Championship, DeChambeau was back to the swing from his college years where he became just the fifth golfer to win the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Championship in the same season.
He finished T26. A week later at Quicken Loans National it was T17. The upward trend continued at the Greenbrier Classic (T14) and then of course his victory has followed.
“Through that little transition, I gained immediate confidence back and I was able to perform nicely through the last four weeks and get the win this week,” he says.
“I went into a bit of a low - a lull as well - trying to understand my golf swing a little bit more and was messing around with some things.
“Unfortunately took me off track, but I realized quickly what I needed to do to get back on track.”
It might not be the conventional track … but one gets the feeling he won’t be riding it alone in the future.