Analyzing the big drives from beefy Bryson
June 16, 2020
By Justin Ray, 15th Club for PGATOUR.COM
- June 16, 2020
Bryson DeChambeau’s best drives from the Charles Schwab Challenge
No player’s appearance – and game – set social media ablaze last week like Bryson DeChambeau’s.
His imposing new frame and accompanying distance gains overshadowed a balanced statistical performance at the Charles Schwab Challenge. DeChambeau led the field in scrambling and ranked third in approach shot proximity in his return to competition.
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None of that will get the bulk of the attention, though. And, based on Bryson’s statistics off the tee, that is understandable.
There were 13 drives hit by the field last week that traveled 354 yards or longer. DeChambeau had more than half (7) of them. Three of the four drives hit 360 yards or longer last week came off the clubface of DeChambeau. In all, he gained 7.3 strokes off the tee. Not only did that lead the field, but he blew it away. No other else even gained five strokes off the tee.
At more than 323 yards, DeChambeau is on pace to break the PGA TOUR single-season record for average driving distance. Hank Kuehne is the current holder of that mark. He averaged 321.4 yards off the tee in 2003. He remains the only player in PGA TOUR history to average 320 yards or more over the course of an entire season.
HIGHEST SINGLE-SEASON DRIVING DISTANCE AVERAGE IN TOUR HISTORY Year Name Average 2020 Bryson DeChambeau 323.8 yards 2003 Hank Kuehne 321.4 2020 Cameron Champ 320.8 2018 Rory McIlroy 319.7 2006 Bubba Watson 319.6
But just how much bigger are Bryson’s drives than his peers on the TOUR? Historically, the difference isn’t as wide as some of the past kings of length.
In 2003, the average driving distance on the PGA TOUR was 285.9 yards. Kuehne’s average of 321.4 was a colossal 35.5 yards further than the average that season. That’s the largest single-season difference since the TOUR started tracking the statistic in 1980.
The average driving distance this season on the TOUR is 296.4 yards, meaning DeChambeau is beating the average by 27.4 yards. That’s the 20th-largest single-season difference, just behind Tiger Woods’ 1997 differential of 27.5 yards.
LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL BETWEEN DRIVING-DISTANCE LEADER AND TOUR AVERAGE Year Name Difference 2003 Hank Kuehne 35.5 yards 1997 John Daly 34.7 1999 John Daly 34.0 2006 Bubba Watson 30.7 2005 Scott Hend 30.5
John Daly has long been the statistical beacon of bombing it. Consider this: there have been seven seasons since 1980 where a player’s average driving distance was 28 yards or more beyond the TOUR average. More than half of them – seven – belong to Daly. No other player has more than one such season.
It isn’t just DeChambeau’s distance that has been staggering. It’s the fact that he’s coupled it with accuracy off the tee.
There has never been a season in PGA TOUR history where a player averaged 316 or more yards off the tee and hit 60 percent of his fairways. DeChambeau is on pace to obliterate that mark, as he’s currently averaging 323.8 yards and hitting 60.2% of his fairways.
DeChambeau is competing in an era where the bar for being able to gain strokes off the tee has been raised significantly. Including this season, there are 25 PGA TOUR seasons where a player averaged 315 yards or more off the tee. Thirteen of those 25 seasons have come in the last four years. There are six players averaging 315 yards or more off the tee this season.
DeChambeau’s newfound length (he’s added more than 24 yards of average driving distance since 2017) may not show its complete benefits this week in South Carolina. According to 15th Club course data, the value of extra distance at Harbour Town is the sixth-lowest of any regular PGA TOUR venue.
Harbour Town is one of the few venues that has valued short-game play as much as drives and approach shots. Over the last 10 years, the average ranking of RBC Heritage winners in strokes gained short game (i.e. Around-the-Green plus Putting) is 14.9. The average ranking of Heritage winners in strokes gained long game (i.e. Off-the-Tee plus Approach) is 19.0. Winners at Harbour Town since 2010 have averaged about 273 yards off the tee – 25 yards shorter than the average PGA TOUR event in that same stretch.
Despite all that, DeChambeau’s history around Harbour Town is reason to be bullish on his chances this week. Over the last 10 years, there are 155 players with 12 or more rounds in the RBC Heritage. Among that group, DeChambeau is first in strokes gained tee-to-green per round, at +2.10. Patrick Cantlay is the only player in that span within half-stroke per round of DeChambeau in that statistic. DeChambeau also ranks second among all players in Strokes Gained: Approach per round at Harbour Town (+1.31) in that same span.
The great DeChambeau distance experiment is off to a fascinating start. Let’s see if it’s part of a winning formula the remainder of 2020 and beyond.
MOST STROKES GAINED: TEE-TO-GREEN AT RBC HERITAGE IN THE LAST 10 YEARS Name Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green Bryson DeChambeau +2.10 Patrick Cantlay +1.84 Luke Donald +1.53 Jim Furyk +1.48 Matt Kuchar +1.38 Note: min. 12 rounds