Matthew Fitzpatrick, like much of the golf world, had watched as Bryson DeChambeau added both weight and corresponding distance over the past year on his way to winning the U.S. Open in September. He was not impressed.
“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way, in my opinion,” Fitzpatrick said at the BMW PGA Championship a few weeks after the Open. “I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a biomechanist, and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact. I could put another two inches on my driver. I could gain that. But the skill, in my opinion, is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill. He’s just taking the skill out of it, in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft.”
That’s “just laughable,” Justin Thomas said.
On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar, Thomas said Fitzpatrick “was totally wrong.”
“I just don’t understand how you can tell me or anybody that what Bryson has done – look, you don’t have to like the guy, you don’t have to agree with what he’s doing, you can think he’s different, whatever. But you can’t argue the fact that he has completely transformed his body, which is large, by the way – he is a unit. And done it successfully and played well and won a major.
“I mean, he’s pretty much given up his life. He’s completely changed his entire lifestyle and what he’s done. And just like someone learning to jump higher or someone learning to throw a football farther, it’s a skill.”
After leaving the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in early October of 2019, DeChambeau said he was “going to come back next year and look like a different person. You’re going to see some pretty big changes in my body, which is going to be a good thing. Going to be hitting it a lot further.” He kept his word. Then, DeChambeau weighed around 200 pounds; now, he’s around 240. In the 2019 PGA Tour season, DeChambeau was tied for 34th in driving distance, at 302.5 yards per poke; in the 2020 season, DeChambeau was first, at 322.1.
Of course, Thomas said, at the U.S. Open and every other tournament, DeChambeau can’t use driver on the green. In the final round, DeChambeau ranked seventh in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and third in Strokes Gained: Putting.
“I understand what he was saying about you need to hit it straight and you need to get it up and down – but another thing: Bryson won the U.S. Open because he putts the hell out of it; not because he hits it really far,” Thomas said. “Yeah, it helps, but if he putted like every other person who hits as far as him, he would, you know, probably be putting my mail in my mailbox every other day.
“He makes it count what he has, and I just don’t see how that’s not a skill.”