When Bryson DeChambeau pared the 18th hole at Emirates Golf Club to clinch a record win in Dubai, and his fifth tournament victory in seven months, it somehow wasn’t the record itself which stood out most.
It was his longish putter which has the grip the size of a small javelin pole, different to any other putter used by a professional golfer. It could have passed for a small pickaxe for all we knew.
But DeChambeau, the man with a degree in physics, is not your average golfer. He is nicknamed the ‘Mad Scientist’ for a reason and definitely takes a scientific approach to the game.
His sizzling rounds of 66-66-68-64 en route to winning the Dubai Desert Classic were seriously impressive, with his A-game better than anyone else’s on tour at present.
What makes the American different from all others at the top level of world golf is his unique method of employing irons and wedges at the same length.
Each club measures 37.5 inches and is built with a 7-iron shaft – compared with most golf sets which get progressively shorter as the club increases.
He uses long grips the size of a long yard brush on each of his clubs and these are methods used by nobody else at the pinnacle.
If you get technical with him after a round, the Clovis resident will talk at length about his approach to sizing up for a shot or why he opts to choose certain clubs at certain times.
The 25-year-old collected four PGA Tour wins last season, including back-to-back titles in FedEX Cup play-off events.
His four-stroke victory in the Northern Trust Open in August made him only the fourth player to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship, the US Amateur title and three PGA Tour events before their 25th birthday.
The others? Only three of the biggest stars to have graced courses around the world – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus.
Despite DeChambeau’s low-key profile, he has sealed more trophies in the same time frame than Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler combined.
Although the trio may be more popular figures, the California native is slowly cementing his status at the top.
In 2018 alone, he climbed from 94th in the world to fifth and this is where he belongs. He is an elite golfer and one of the leading players. For his glittering CV to boast a first overseas victory in Dubai is a fine tonic to build on going forward.
Following him around the Earth Course for most of the weekend, he is captivating to watch and employs a very analytical approach to course management.
He consults his yardage book a lot more than your typical professional golfer. His extensive note-taking, discussions with his caddie and analytical approach makes him a unique and interesting character.
But like any professional, he does have his downsides and needs to control his emotions at times. He drops the head a lot when striking a bad shot and can often be seen as a sourpuss when things don’t go his way.
In contrast, many other players stay in check and just keep going.
After the first round of the Open at Carnoustie in July, he had a meltdown on the practice ground. He threw his clubs in despair, held his head in his hands as the demons took over his usually consistent golf swing. He would go on to finish in a tie for 51st that weekend.
At the Porsche Open the following week, he led with four holes remaining before suffering another crisis of confidence and finishing in a tie for 13th. His blunt handshake with eventual winner Richard McEvoy drew heavy criticism and he was forced to apologise.
Every star is going to make mistakes along his journey to success, but Dechambeau is learning and needs consistency to be a priority if he is to convert his sparkling form into major glory.
His driving and iron play is superb but if there was a part of his game he could improve, it is his putting.
Under the new rules which allow players to have the option of leaving the pin in while putting, DeChambeau already admits he intends to leave the flag in as his ‘research’ proves it will help him. It certainly looked that way over the weekend in Dubai.
“Pin in, is an easy one. It’s statistically proven to be a benefit in 99 per cent of situations,” he said recently.
He was 32nd in strokes gained last season – improved from 146th in 2017 – so any improvement again will make him hard to beat as the season progresses.
DeChambeau is no doubt bringing a distinctive approach to playing the game and if he can continue to improve in the same way he did in the second half of 2018, then expect him to be a force for years to come.
He has the skillset, the perfect demeanour on course, breaks down the game and assesses where his errors are after each hole. He may be described as the Mad Scientist but his formula is definitely working.
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