Bryson DeChambeau said he didn’t know what to expect in his return to PGA Tour play. On paper, golf’s most famous bodybuilder doesn’t necessarily set up well to play Colonial, which is traditionally known as a poker’s paradise. But so far, so good: DeChambeau put up a five-under 65 on Thursday that included some eye-popping numbers off the tee.
DeChambeau’s followers on social media have seen his transformation in recent months (particularly after the release of his outrageous quarantine video), but this was the first chance for the broader sports world to see his bigger, stronger, faster self.
“Yeah, well, I’ve upped about 20 pounds,” DeChambeau said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to hit it farther, but I’ve done a lot of speed training to attain these new ball speeds.”
At home, DeChambeau has hit ball speeds of 200+ when going all out with driver. But Colonial is tight and tree-lined. The whiz kids at DataGolf learned that compared to the average Tour course, it “mainly penalizes bombers.”
Through one round, DeChambeau brought the best of both worlds. Midway through the afternoon wave he was leading the event in strokes gained off the tee at +2.03. On measured holes, he led the field in driving distance at a wild 345.4 yards. And he hit nine of 14 fairways, more than enough to keep him in play. It’s a lethal combination.
“When I was out here I was attaining ball speeds of 193, 195 on certain holes, and quite honestly I can’t use it out here. There’s only a couple holes I can use it, No. 11 and No. 1 and No. 2 really,” he said.
Let’s check out those holes, then: DeChambeau started on the back nine, and on No. 11 pumped one 354 (albeit down the left tree line).
On No. 1 he found the fairway with a 353-yard missile.
And No. 2 he cut the corner on a 375-yard par-4, leaving himself with just a 40-yard approach shot. He birdied two of those three holes.
In some cases it would be dumb to look at driving stats from one round, but it makes slightly more sense to do so in this case because DeChambeau is picking up right where he left off. He entered the week No. 3 on Tour in strokes gained off the tee (+1.01) and No. 1 in driving distance (321.3 yards per drive). Plus, there’s no faking 350-yard bombs.
As always, the important numbers came on the card, and they were favorable: six birdies against just one bogey. More of that and we’ll be seeing plenty more of a bigger, better Bryson on the weekend.