Bryson DeChambeau criticizes his driver after shaky Open Championship start

bryson dechambeau hitting driver at open championship

Bryson DeChambeau shot a one-over 71 in the first round of the Open Championship.

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Bryson DeChambeau, ahead of this week’s Open Championship, said “no matter what, you’ve got to be in the fairway.” Though not a revelation to some, the comment was surprising coming from DeChambeau, whose bomb-and-gouge strategy has powered him over the past year-plus, including to a victory at the U.S. Open. 

And why was hitting fairways so imperative at Royal St. George’s?

“If I get in there more times than not into the hay, probably not going to have a good chance this week,” DeChambeau said. “So you’ve got to make sure the driver is well.”

DeChambeau called his shots. 

During Thursday’s first round, he bogeyed five holes, birdied four and shot a one-over 71. Along the way, he hit only four of 14 fairways, including the par-4 1st, where he used an iron. Afterward, he faulted his driver, a Cobra Radspeed.

“That’s what I said yesterday or a couple days ago: If I can hit it down the middle of the fairway, that’s great, but with the driver right now, the driver sucks,” DeChambeau said. 

“It’s not a good face for me, and we’re still trying to figure out how to make it good on the mis-hits. I’m living on the razor’s edge like I’ve told people for a long time. When I did get it outside of the fairway, like in the first cut and whatnot, I catch jumpers out of there and I couldn’t control my wedges.

“It’s quite finicky for me because it’s a golf course that’s pretty short, and so when I hit driver and it doesn’t go in the fairway, it’s first cut or whatever, or it’s in the hay, it’s tough for me to get it out onto the green and control that. Like once in the middle of the fairway like I had it on 18, I was able to hit a nice shot to 11 feet and almost made birdie. It’s kind of living on the razor’s edge.”

DeChambeau was asked both if he had anyone working on his driver now and why he did not realize it was problematic during the practice rounds.

DeChambeau hit only four fairways Thursday.

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“I’ve realized this for years now,” he said. “This has happened since 2016-17 when players stopped drawing it. There’s not very many golfers that draw it anymore. It’s not because of spin rate. Everybody thinks it’s — we’re at 2,000, 1,800 spin or whatever. It’s not — it’s literally the physics and the way that they build heads now. It’s not the right design, unfortunately, and we’ve been trying to fix it.” (On Thursday night, DeChambeau apologized for his comments; you can read his full statement below.)

A Cobra representative did not immediately respond to GOLF.com’s request for comment. Speaking with Golfweek’s David Dusek, Ben Schomin, Cobra’s tour operations manager who doubled as DeChambeau’s caddie two weeks ago, expressed his frustration with the World No. 6’s comments, comparing them to those of an “8-year-old that gets mad at you.”

“Everybody is bending over backwards. We’ve got multiple guys in R&D who are CAD’ing (computer-aided design) this and CAD-ing that, trying to get this and that into the pipeline faster. (Bryson) knows it…It’s just really, really painful when he says something that stupid.”

In the June issue of GOLF Magazine, GOLF’s Andrew Tursky reported on the working relationship between DeChambeau and Cobra’s club-builders.

“At his newly developed, eye-popping ball speeds of 200-plus mph, DeChambeau is helping Cobra unlock driver designs that not only remain durable, but also provide maximum speed and accuracy,” Tursky wrote. “His latest venture is experimenting with different face curvatures and thicknesses on his 4.5-degree driver, hoping to gain control. At his speed, control is imperative.

“‘He’s got to be almost 20 percent straighter than some of the average Tour players to keep it in the fairway,’ said Tom Olsavsky [Cobra’s vice president of R&D].”

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This year’s Open also marks DeChambeau’s first since he underwent a transformation starting at the end of 2019 in which he added muscle in order to add distance. (The 2020 Open was canceled.) During his pre-tournament press conference, he admitted that “this is the first time I’ve taken my length to links golf. We’ll see how that plays. Maybe it plays out week; maybe it doesn’t. I’ll keep trying to figure it out.” 

DeChambeau also spoke glowingly of Tiger Woods’ nearly irons-only approach during his victory at the 2006 Open and was asked if that would be something he would consider employing. 

“A thousand percent, no doubt,” DeChambeau said. “I think what he showcased is an awesome ability to play it on the ground, play links on the ground, which is the way it should be played I personally think, as well, albeit I do something completely different.

“I have the utmost respect for that style of play. I think there’s certain advantages to hitting it long in certain places, but not everywhere. There will be certain holes where there is a lot of wind and you can’t really control the golf ball with that type of wind, where it bounces, how it bounces. So keeping it low and on the ground if it gets firm is definitely something I would utilize, yeah.”

UPDATE: On Thursday night, DeChambeau posted an apology to his Instagram account, calling his remarks “very unprofessional.” He added, “I sucked today, not my equipment.” You can read his full statement here:

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor