This PGA Championship is all about 'mental fortitude,' says Bryson DeChambeau
Through professional golf’s COVID-19 break a year ago there was one name that kept making headlines, even though there was no golf to be played – and that was Bryson DeChambeau’s.
DeChambeau ended up adding upwards of 40 pounds in the chase for more speed and distance. He busted out of the gates after the break notching five top-10 finishes in his first seven starts. Those results included a tie for fourth at last year’s PGA Championship plus a PGA Tour victory, to boot.
He would go on to win the U.S. Open – his first major – in the fall, and earlier this year, he added another PGA Tour title.
But what’s his strategy for this week at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, set to be the longest golf course in major championship history?
“Hopefully I can unleash the beast,” said DeChambeau, who admitted the Ocean Course is going to be a stern test this week.
“It’s not easy,” DeChambeau continued, “I think that's what's so unique about this golf course is that when the wind picks up, it is probably one of the hardest golf courses I've ever played.”
DeChambeau’s pre-Championship interview was wide-ranging. He spoke about a UFO sighting in his backyard (“For the most part talking about aliens is kind of cool”), how he’s going to adjust for the wind (“The laminar flow of the wind,” to be precise) and bad breaks (“I hit a perfect shot with a 53-degree wedge at 10:30 and on the device it says it went the right distance and then we looked up and it landed five yards past the flag”) but one thing is for sure: you can’t count him out this week.
He finished tied for 55th last week on the PGA Tour but admitted Wednesday he was only 50 percent confident with his putting. This week that’s already zipped up to 75 percent. It’s not as close as he was when he won the U.S. Open (he said he was closer to 95 percent confident) but he’s getting closer.
Not only that, but DeChambeau is leading the PGA Tour in driving at over 322 yards per pop. It’s a category he’d love to keep leading over the next five years, too.
“As golf courses keep getting longer and they become more demanding on the PGA Tour, if you can put it in the fairway and be in the fairway all the time, having a massive advantage over everybody, I can work on the iron play and the wedging and putting. Putting is good enough to still win,” he said.
DeChambeau also preached accuracy being a premium this week. The most complete player will end up hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday evening.
“You can't miss it in certain areas either,” he said. “Like you can't bail out left or right. You've just got to have your ball-striking on the whole day, and if you don't, you're going to get penalized.”
Regardless of the impact of the wind or the length of the golf course or the lucky (or unlucky) breaks one may get this week, DeChambeau said the 103rd PGA Championship is set to be a stout mental test.
“We all are great golfers and we know how to swing the golf club, but it's more about the mental fortitude that you have, and for some reason I do pretty well in these types of environments,” he said. “It brings out the best in me. So hopefully it can this week.”
DeChambeau has already shown what his best looks like at major championships, the toughest tests in golf. Now he’s hoping that type of game will show up at the PGA Championship – and he can add to his major-winning total.