TULSA, Okla. — Bryson DeChambeau is on site at Southern Hills. And on Tuesday during his practice round on the Perry Maxwell design, things looked relatively normal. He played nine holes. He hit some bombs. He signed autographs for a whole bunch of fans.
But there was one distinct difference: a wrap on his left wrist.
The wrap stems from an injury to the hamate bone in his left hand. DeChambeau underwent surgery for the ailment last month and has been out of commission ever since. But just a little over a month removed from surgery to repair the injury, he’s in major-championship-prep mode.
“It feels surprisingly pretty solid,” DeChambeau told GOLF.com. “I was expecting it to hurt a lot worse out there.”
But despite the encouraging progress, and positive early returns in Tulsa, it’s uncertain whether he can tee it up on Thursday.
“If I’m not in a place where I can compete for four days, I’m going to give somebody else a chance to go,” DeChambeau said. “It’s not fair to take the spot away from someone if I know I can’t go the full round.”
The good news for DeChambeau is that the pain is manageable. And even with some lingering discomfort, he’s still got plenty of firepower.
On No. 5, he sent a missile down the fairway that rolled out to 385 yards. Wind and downslope aided that number, but his ample speed was on display, shaky health or not.
On the upwind 9th hole, he made a mighty lash with his driver and sent the ball down the left side of the fairway with 184 mph of ball speed. It finished in the left rough even with the fairway bunkers, nearly 300 yards from the tee box.
“That’s nice to see that,” he said. “I still have a competitive-level swing speed, even with an injured hand. I think it’s just a testament to how long I’ve been trying to gain speed. It’s been a benefit to me, not necessarily a problem.”
By his estimates, DeChambeau is only swinging between 60 and 70 percent this week during his prep. But thanks to his formerly-prodigious ball speed numbers, he can still reach a Tour-level speeds even in a lower gear.
“If I were at 175 ball speed before, I wouldn’t be able to reach those speeds at all,” he said. “[Speed training] has been a benefit to me, no matter which way you look at it.”
Although DeChambeau has been out of commission for much of this season (he’s only made five starts in 2022), he’s still in tune with the chatter surrounding his injury.
He hurt it from lifting too much. He shouldn’t have focused so much on speed.
He contends that the injury bug could have bit him no matter his strength regimen. The human body is a mysterious thing, and things can get out of whack from the slightest tweaks.
“I could’ve gotten injured doing anything,” he said. “Unfortunately, it happened the way it happened. But that doesn’t mean it was because of speed training. I could’ve hurt myself doing anything.”
No matter the reason, it doesn’t change the reality: he’s far from 100 percent, and teeing it up on Thursday would be an accomplishment in its own right. But step one is complete. DeChambeau has made the trip to Oklahoma. Two days into prep, he’s still got a shot to play.
“It’s a great step in the right direction,” DeChambeau said. “I’m proud of that, and I’m proud that I’m here.”