AUGUSTA, Ga. — Much had been made of how Bryson DeChambeau and all his power would fare at the 2020 Masters in November, fresh off his bludgeoning of Winged Foot. But with a couple of over-cooked draws, one soggy lost ball and not nearly enough birdies, we were all reminded: Augusta National doesn’t lay down for anyone.
DeChambeau is back — five months and another distance-fueled victory later — and the course will play drastically different. His response? To create an even more aggressive approach this time around.
DeChambeau has been most outward with his intentions on the 1st hole, a 455-yard par-4. If it’s playing downwind, he’s going to wallop his new driver up over the trees on the right, and he thinks he’ll reach the front edge of the green. That should scare a couple of people — some of those in the field, some of those power brokers in the distance debate and, most importantly, the patrons and players located up near the green.
The intriguing part about this is that Jack Nicklaus predicted it. Nicklaus joined the Drop Zone podcast in early November to discuss all things Augusta and he pointed out how the 1st hole was ripe for DeChambeau’s taking. It seems plausible to come true in April, as the firmness of the fairways has been a popular point of discussion early in the week at Augusta National. The ball is going to roll, roll and roll some more, in much the same way it did at Winged Foot.
DeChambeau will follow the 1st hole right into another full send on the 2nd. It perfectly fits his preferred drawing shot-shape, and if he can fly his tee shot onto the downslope to the green, he’ll have an easy shot into the par-5. How easy? Perhaps “less than a wedge,” as DeChambeau told GOLF.com on Sunday night. Another thought that should scare some people. The 2nd hole is listed at 575 yards, so DeChambeau is insinuating a tee shot that travels at least 400 yards.
The 3rd hole is where DeChambeau said it all went wrong in November, where the soft, wet conditions led to a lost ball during the 2nd round. With driver, again, DeChambeau said Monday he plans to try and drive the green on the 350-yard par-4. He described his intended line as “unique,” so rest assured his draw will fly way up to the right over the tall pines.
On the 5th hole, it’s driver again. Playing into a headwind on Monday, DeChambeau cleared the looming bunkers on the left side of the fairway. “That gives me a lot of comfort that I can get it over those bunkers on a windy day,” he said during his press conference Tuesday. One of the most difficult holes at Augusta, the trouble at 5 can be half-neutered with a tee shot that carries the bunkers.
The 9th, long considered a tricky par-4 that caps off the front nine, is truly a grip-it-and-rip-it hole for DeChambeau. Trees along the left side were forever considered dangerous, but DeChambeau can not only clear them with driver, he wants to hit over them. The ground flattens out and leaves a pretty reasonable approach into the green, which banks from back-to-front from that angle. Just another line that indicates a modern, bombing game.
Sound aggressive enough for you? That’s just the front nine. DeChambeau will likely employ many of the same lines off the back nine that he did in November. The ball will just roll out quite a bit more than five months ago. It could roll through the 13th fairway into 14. It could get down the hill in just one shot on 15, leaving another less-than-wedge-into-a-par-5 moment. He can throttle down to 3-wood on 10 and still fly it farther than many players’ drivers.
While it may sound like we’re beating a broken drum at Augusta National for the second time in half a year, it’s because it’s going to be different this time. That doesn’t mean the putts will drop, and it doesn’t mean Rae’s Creek will reject any of his shots that head its way. But it does imply we’ll see the course played in a fashion we’ve never seen before. Potentially a Masters unlike any other.