Flag-in putting works for DeChambeau
January 03, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii – One round is not a great sample size but for now Bryson DeChambeau is a genius.
As he had indicated he would in the months leading up to golf's new rule changes, DeChambeau took advantage of one of the much talked about alterations – being able to putt with the flagstick in.
The five-time PGA TOUR champion alternated between leaving it in and taking it out throughout his opening round at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and drained a number of putts that rattled off the flagstick.
After he signed for a 4-under 69 one stat stood out – he led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting at +3.868.
While Justin Thomas said he couldn’t take himself seriously if he left the stick in earlier this week, DeChambeau’s results are as serious as they come.
“I feel like I maximized my potential on that, especially on 16 today, where it's kind of blowing downwind, five percent slope, straight downhill you want that pin to help. So that's what I kind of did and utilized it to my advantage,” DeChambeau said.
“I felt like for the most part I needed the pin to be in and it went in and it was a very nice help.”
One of the concerns was playing partners may be inconvenienced but Dustin Johnson said there was no issue.
“It was definitely weird, well not weird, but different looking watching somewhat putt with the flag in but it actually worked out where it wasn’t a big deal today,” Johnson said.
“It didn’t really slow us down or anything. There were a couple of times where if we were close and the flag was out I would just putt it because I knew he would put in back in.”
The two spoke briefly before the round about the issue with Johnson just advising DeChambeau’s caddie to grab the flag on the greens so as it wouldn’t be an issue.
DeChambeau, who is currently running eighth in the FedExCup, will continue to monitor how it works for him over time.
“It's so situational and I don't know when it's actually going to hurt me, if it is going to hurt me. So that's why I got to understand that, when it does hurt me I'll know and that I won't do it anymore,” he said.
“But as of right now it seems like it's a pretty nice benefit.
“On 14, I kind of pushed it a little bit and it went in the right side and if I hit it a little harder it may lip out, but instead it hit the flag and went in easily. So it's totally situational, still liquid, I'm still learning, under competition, when it's the right thing to do.”
DeChambeau wasn’t the only player to leave the flag in on a few occasions, but they were not for strategic purposes.
Marc Leishman tapped in his first eagle of 2019 from three-inches and couldn’t help but laugh at himself as he had left the pin in.
“I thought I could just lag it in the front edge and make sure it didn't hit the pin and bounce out,” he joked.
“It was the first one I've done, probably the last, but I thought I better get one out of the way.”
Bryson DeChambeau birdies No. 16 at Sentry