After PGA Tour ruling, Bryson DeChambeau says he’ll keep his strategies secret
On Thursday at the Players Championship, Bryson DeChambeau finished off his opening round with a 4-iron down the 18th fairway, a short iron into the green and a two-putt par. Considering 18 was playing as the day’s most difficult hole, averaging 4.4 strokes, DeChambeau’s 4 gained on the field average and finished off an excellent opening 69.
Still, he couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.
That’s because on Tuesday afternoon, the PGA Tour decided to outlaw DeChambeau’s preferred line off 18. That line involved a mega-carry from the tee all the way over the left water onto the 9th hole, setting up a short-iron approach. (See below.)
On Tuesday, DeChambeau had said in his press conference that he’d “probably try it,” depending on where grandstands were set up.
“It’s not really that big of an advantage, but taking the water out of play and having an easier second shot, it may be easier, I don’t know,” he said.
Because of potential safety issues with volunteers, spectators and other players, the Tour elected to install internal out of bounds, prohibiting players taking that line.
“In the interest of safety for spectators and other personnel, the Players Championship Rules Committee has installed an internal out of bounds left of the lake for play of hole 18,” the Tour’s statement read. (The Tour did not mention DeChambeau in the statement.)
After Round 1, DeChambeau said was mildly dismayed but made it clear he was at peace with the ruling.
“I understand it,” he said. I probably shouldn’t have said anything. Knowing that now, I won’t ever say any lines that I’m taking anymore. But that’s okay. I understand it.”
In all, Day 1 marked a successful start for DeChambeau. The World No. 6 didn’t miss a beat coming off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and birdied 16 and 17 on his way in to post three-under 69, good for T6.
“The golf course is always telling me each and every day what I need to do to get it close to the hole or in the fairway. It really dictates what we do. I listen a lot to the golf course,” he said.
He listened well all day, keeping driver (mostly) in play and managing his way around the golf course. And when he got to 18 tee, DeChambeau and caddie Tim Tucker had a brief discussion about how best to get the ball down the fairway.
“If you pull it, you’re re-teeing,” he said of the tee shot, which severely punishes a left miss. “I could hit 4-iron out there all day long and hit 8-iron in and be okay, to that back flag even. So it’s a great strategy. I saw Tiger hit iron off the tee a couple years ago and he’s done pretty well here and I would follow what he’s doing.”
Following Tiger Woods’ strategy is a strong consolation prize. Still, the Tour’s ruling means we might hear less of DeChambeau planning out loud moving forward.
“I understand why, from a safety precaution reason, totally get it,” he said. “But I’m going to keep myself a little quiet next time for lines that I’m going to try to obtain.”
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