Problem was, there were still four-plus hours and over a hundred shots to go in this practice round in January of 2018. And when dreaming of playing with your childhood idol, you sometimes never get past the first 60 seconds.
“This is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been on the golf course my entire life,” DeChambeau said on the Full Send Podcast. “More nervous than the Ryder Cup. More nervous than the Long Drive thing. It was by far the coolest, most nerve-racking experience. … He asked me to go play, and I was like, uh, yeah, let’s do it, why not.
“And we get out there, media everywhere. And Tiger, just stoic as ever. And I had been texting with him a little bit, but shook his hand and just like, nothing, there was nothing. He’d just look at you. And that’s when I first met him. You’d be like this, and he’d just look at you and just look away and not even know you were there anymore. That’s how weird — amazing it was. So I talked to him, cool, whatever, go to the 10th tee, hit a drive, and as we’re walking down the course, I don’t know what to say to him because he’s my idol, right, and someone I’ve grown up wanting to play golf with and compete against.
“And for the first two or three holes, there was really not much at all to be said.”
And then there was. Turns out, DeChambeau had found a kindred golf geek. And all of a sudden, you couldn’t shut the two up about slope and stimp.
“And then finally on 12, I asked him about something in his putting, and it’s like — because I’m a geek when it comes to putting and golf and whatever; everybody calls me the scientist, whatever — he’s a nerd as well,” DeChambeau said on the podcast. “Complete nerd. And I love it. It’s super awesome. I started talking to him about putting, and he just goes down the rabbit hole, man. As deep as you think you can go with putting, he went even deeper. He knows everything and anything about putting.
“And we just connected super well from that.”
Of course, we’re talking about practice here. Not a game. And while practice round Tiger will give you all the time in the world, tournament Tiger won’t give you the time of day. And the Woods legion? It’s not that they won’t cheer for you — but they’ll roar for their man. In short, it’s not for everyone.
A few months after Torrey, DeChambeau and Woods played together again, this time during the third round of the Dell Technologies Championship. And DeChambeau shot 63 and won the next day.
“I think in 2018, that’s one of the reasons why I won at TPC Boston for the Dell Technologies,” DeChambeau said on the podcast. “I played with him Saturday, and the crowd is huge, obviously paired with him, Tiger and I. He goes and he’s playing pretty well, but for whatever reason, I felt like I was feeding off of that crowd when they were going crazy for Tiger. So like for example, Tiger hits his drive on 2, and it’s right down the middle, whatever. And I was hitting it past him probably 20 yards, something like that, at the time. And I’d stripe a drive, and there’d be just a little clap. And then Tiger would hit, and everybody would be like, yeahhhh, let’s goooo; everybody’s going crazy, right.
“So that’s the difference. That’s a different dynamic. And I still try to use that energy and play well. And so ultimately I went and shot 63 that round and he shot 68.”