January 25, 2015
NCGA’s Bryson DeChambeau Leaves Impression at Abu Dhabi HSBC Classic
NCGA member Bryson DeChambeau had already made his big splash here in the States with his victory at last year’s U.S. Amateur Championship.
This past weekend, the 22-year-old Clovis resident and 2011 Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year introduced himself to the European Tour by making an early run at the star-studded Abu Dhabi HSBC Classic.
In Thursday’s first round, DeChambeau took the lead—over the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and eventual winner Rickie Fowler– after posting an 8-under 64. He’d stay in contention with a second round 72, but fell back on Saturday following a 78.
While he didn’t pull out the victory, the guy who’s quickly becoming known around the golf globe as the ‘Golf Scientist’ certainly left an impression.
On Saturday, McIlroy, one of his playing partners, gave DeChambeau’s unique irons a try. Unlike anyone else, each of DeChambeau’s irons are the same length—37.5 inches (that of a 7-iron) and feature the same shaft, grip, lie angle and bounce. The theory is that the uniform length shafts result in a more repeatable swing with more consistent center face impacts.
Albeit McIlroy didn’t talk about how it felt to swing with DeChambeau’s clubs, the former world No.1 did give a nod of approval to DeChambeau’s unique approach to the game.
“He’s much smarter than I am,” McIlroy said. “It’s obviously a technique that’s all his own and he’s got a pretty interesting background. He’s obviously a great player, plays really, really well and is playing well this week.”
Along with some of golf’s biggest names, DeChambeau also left an impression on some of the European Tour media. Following his opening round 64, one scribe simply asked DeChambeau, “You are different, aren’t you?”
To which DeChambeau replied, “Just a little bit.”
In explaining his clubs, DeChambeau pointed to his coach and Homer Kelley’s 1969 book, “The Golfing Machine”.
“It’s a long story but to keep it short, I pretty much chose this variation on the Golfing Machine where it allowed me 20 swing on the same plane and when I did that, I realized I couldn’t do that with a wedge and 3-iron, I would be changing body motions,” DeChambeau said. “And I said, ‘That doesn’t make sense’. I said, ‘Let’s make them on the same lie angle and same length. My coach said, ‘That’s an easy one to ask, a tough one to answer. ’We’ve been on this journey and it’s been a great process and learning process for me. I’ve learned a lot.”
For DeChambeau, playing in events like the Abu Dhabi HSBC Classic is all part of the process. As he explains it, it’s part of the journey. With his win at the U.S. Amateur, he became the first Northern California player to hold that title since Ricky Barnes in 2002.
“I never set goals. I’m more of a journeyman; I like focusing on the journey process,” said DeChambeau, whose upcoming itinerary includes competing in the Masters. “It’s nice to kind of be an intern as an amateur playing in professional events. I’m getting used to and getting more comfortable each event. It’s fun, a lot of fun being out here,” DeChambeau said.