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DECHAMBEAU’S FATE AT PINEHURST MAY RELY ON THE OLDEST CLUB IN HIS BAG

News
Written by
Mike McAllister
Jun 11 2024
- 6 MIN
Bryson Putter

PINEHURST, N.C. – The oldest club in Bryson DeChambeau’s bag is his prototype L.A. Golf Bel Air X putter with the Jumbo Max grip. It’s the only club he hasn’t changed since joining LIV Golf two years ago – although to nobody’s surprise, he has made some alterations by covering the logo with lead tape in order to center and lower the mass towards the middle.

The blade-style putter is not the tool everybody usually associates with DeChambeau, who within the last year has raved about his Krank Golf driver that fueled his 61-58 weekend at Greenbrier, and then made equipment news two months ago by switching to cutting-edge Avoda 3D-printed irons (maintaining his single-length shafts, of course).

But the putter may be his most important weapon at this week’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, with the No. 2 course’s famous domed greens tuned to potential train wreck speed.

“People are going to be like, ‘What is he even talking about?’ He hits it far and it works to his advantage and whatnot,” DeChambeau said Tuesday. “But I think personally for me, my chipping and putting around the greens is what is going to aid me to give myself a good chance.”

Chipping and putting certainly fueled DeChambeau’s performance at last month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, as he finished solo second by a stroke to Xander Schauffele. His 20-under total is the lowest in major championship history by a non-winner, and the finish was DeChambeau’s best major result outside his 2020 U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot.

DeChambeau gained more than one stroke each round against the field with his putting, and his putting average tied for seventh that week. Meanwhile, he led the field in scrambling, was sixth in strokes gained: approach-the-green, and both his eagles were from hole-outs, including a 51-yard wedge shot in the opening round.

“I played spectacular that week. I scored impeccable,” DeChambeau recalled. “I didn't strike it as particularly well as I would have liked to, but I got fortunate in certain situations, and I capitalized with my putting being a huge asset to me that week.”

A month earlier at the Masters, DeChambeau produced his career-best result at Augusta National, tying for sixth after taking the 18-hole lead with a 7-under 65 and sharing the 36-hole lead going into the weekend. But the putter was not his key club that week, as he suffered five three-putts.

“I didn't putt very well at Augusta,” he said. “I was pretty disappointed. I worked really hard and actually found something the week of Valhalla with my putting. From there, I've just been smooth sailing, trying to retain that same feeling that I've had, not tinkering with it too much, and doing the same thing this week.”

DeChambeau’s LIV Golf numbers this season have him ranked middle of the pack in putting, but he’s encouraged by his performance last week at LIV Golf Houston, where he tied for 18th.

“I putted pretty decent, made a lot of good putts in some difficult conditions, and they were Bermuda greens,” he said. “So it was good to see the grain and how it was affecting putts and whatnot, which will be somewhat of a similar situation out here.”

DeChambeau said the Bermuda greens in Houston are not exactly the same, but it did provide much-welcomed experience on a grass type that he hasn’t always been confident on.

Growing up in Northern California, DeChambeau competed mostly on bentgrass and poa annua. When he won at Winged Foot, it was on a combination of poa annua (80%) and bentgrass (20%). His two LIV Golf victories last season at The Greenbrier in West Virginia and Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago were on bentgrass.

But now 30 years old and in his eighth year as a pro, DeChambeau feels he can succeed on any surface, including Bermuda.

“What makes me comfortable on these greens is years of practice,” he said. “You've just got to practice and get comfortable with the grain and how it's moving it, the roll-out numbers if you're downgrain, into the grain, what that does. It takes a while to get comfortable with that.

“That's the reason why I'm pretty comfortable is because I've done it for a long time now. If I was 22, 21, it would be a different situation, probably first, second experience with it. Unless you grew up here, around here, around Bermuda greens – and certainly I didn't, so it took me a while to get comfortable with it.”

But can DeChambeau, who separates himself from the pack with his distance, beat 155 other golfers this week with his flatstick?

He may not need to be the best putter at Pinehurst. It might just come down to being good enough. He explained that it’s a matter of making sure the face angle of his putter is square to the target line for as long as possible, and then controlling his speed profile. Do that, and the rest should take care of itself.

“Getting out here and getting a lot of practice in around the greens, on the greens, and making sure that my ball-striking is good is really what I'm focused on,” he said. “And that's the best way to prepare. There's no better test than to actually practice on the golf course you're practicing on for the tournament and whatnot.

“This is a unique test. It's not like most U.S. Opens. It's definitely a different style of U.S. Open, which is really cool. I love that opportunity. I can't wait to get started.”

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