The Rules of Golf might have been softened recently but they still exist pretty rigidly. Relatively speaking, the game has gone a bit mad in the past couple of decades but we still know what to do – we know what clubs we can hit, what ball to tee it up with, how long we’ve got to play each shot and, since 2016, how we are allowed to hold our putter.
Bryson DeChambeau has experimented with various putting styles and he’s now settled on an arm-lock approach which saw him ranked the 11th best putter at Winged Foot. He’s put on 40 pounds in an attempt to hit it off the planet and we can all agree that he’s achieved that. Interestingly, and stats can always be skewed, but he was ‘only’ the 7th longest driver in New York.
He’s the only player to use single-length clubs – he was T5 for Greens In Regulation – and he only went in three greenside bunkers. At the end of the week he finished SIX clear of Matthew Wolff who was on level par, the USGA's ideal winning score. Nine months ago Tiger used him just once before the Presidents Cup singles, now there’s talk of ‘Bryson Proofing’ Augusta, 48-inch drivers and how many majors will he win if all this continues.
Yet the over-riding reaction is one of begrudgingly tipping our cap towards him. He remains unwaveringly snail-like, he’s never going to come across well when we get to hear the never-ending monologue of his own golf and he comes across as, to put it mildly, a bit of a dork but why would any of that bother him? Imagine the accolades if Rory had gone to such extremes and pulled off such a victory? Think of the graveyard of golfers whose careers have hit the buffers in an attempt for more yards? People talk about marginal gains and trying to shave a quarter of a shot off every round – DeChambeau has, quite literally, knocked them all out of the park.
McIlroy is as fair-minded as anyone in the game and his summing up was spot on.
“I think it’s brilliant but I think he’s taken advantage of where the game is. With the way he approaches it, with the arm-lock putting, with everything, it’s just where the game’s at. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. He’s just taking advantage of what we have right now.”