On paper, the par-5 fifth hole at Whistling Straits is a three-shot, 605-yard par-5. Up close, it is all of that distance — an arching, dogleg-right that features two forced carries on a good day. The hole is the quintessentially evil work of Pete Dye, the course’s architect and chief nightmare-inducer.
But there was something Dye didn’t think about when he built the behemoth par-5 in the hopes of bringing multiple major championships, and maybe even someday a Ryder Cup, to Kohler, Wis. Dye didn’t take into account the possibility that an overwhelmingly muscular athletic outlier with long-drive aspirations might someday take over the golf world. And Dye certainly didn’t consider that the barrel-chested bomber might consider blasting his ball so far over the first of the forced carries he’d completely eliminate the majority of the hole’s doglegging.
But on Friday at the Ryder Cup, that’s precisely what Bryson DeChambeau did.
Standing on the tee box of the par-5, which was playing a meagre 581 yards, DeChambeau stared out at the fairway, and then he turned right. For a moment, it appeared as though Bryson had lost his mind. What lay before him was nothing but tall fescue grass, water and several thousand fans. There was nothing to be had for another … oh, I don’t know … four hundred yards. It was time for the big fella to take his medicine, hit into the fairway to the left, and move on.
A few moments later, golf’s longest hitter gave the signal, and dozens of marshals began waving the group of fans assembled along the hillside away from the shot. Bryson was going to go for it, though it wasn’t entirely clear what ‘it’ was. In fact, it was so unclear what ‘it’ was, Golf Channel had none of its cameras trained on DeChambeau as he lined up his drive. (Fortunately, our friends at Sky Sports did.)
Bryson stepped up to his ball, whipped back his club and took a mighty hack. The ball soared off the face of his club so high and so far, nobody other than the man himself could fathom its ultimate destination. DeChambeau knew. He let out a primal scream, then began walking toward his golf ball.
Somewhere far in the distance — some 400 yards away — his ball finally returned to orbit. Utterly shocked by DeChambeau’s line, Sky’s cameraman frantically zoomed in and refocused his shot in time to see the ball land in the center of the fairway.
“Absolutely roasted!” added the Sky Sports broadcast team.
When it finally came to rest, Bryson’s ball had traveled 417 yards. Due to the angle of the hole, he’d chopped off more than 500 yards of distance, leaving himself with only a 72-yard wedge into the green.
With the heavy lifting out of the way, he stuck his approach to four feet, then drained the eagle putt to give the United States the hole and return his match to even.
At long last, it seems DeChambeau has unlocked the secret to American success at the Ryder Cup: long-drive training!
Just kidding … we think.