First there was Fred Couples. Then there was John Daly. And then along came Tiger Woods.
While all three PGA golfers could hit the long ball, no one can match Bryson DeChambeau.
On Saturday, DeChambeau decided to cut the corner on the par 5, 555-yard sixth hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. But he didn’t have to go that far — he took a shortcut across a huge lake.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) March 6, 2021
While the drive missed the green — the shot was drawing but not enough and DeChambeau later said he aimed right instead — in replays it was clear he could’ve made it. Instead, he had just a 68-yard shot left to the green. He two putted for birdie.
DeChambeau hadn’t tried the shot in the first two days because he faced a headwind. But on Saturday, all the conditions were just right to give it a go.
“Let the big dog eat!” shouted one fan in the gallery crowded around the tee box. “C’mon, wind! Gimme a breeze!” yelled another.
And as soon as he hit the ball, he knew he had smashed it, raising both arms. The crowd roared and DeChambeau thrust his arms into the air in triumph when he saw the ball land. In fact, he hit the drive too far, rolling through the fairway and into the rough.
The crowd reaction on this 370-yd DeChambeau drive 👏
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 6, 2021
“Oh, man, I felt like a kid again,” DeChambeau said after the round. “It was exciting — especially when you pull it off. It was almost like winning a tournament. It’s kind of the feeling I had, it was like, ‘Oh, I did it.’ I got the same chills and feeling when I saw it clear and there was no splash, it was like, ‘Yes.’ I gave the fans what they wanted.”
“For the most part that’s a shot that I know I can do and I was able to accomplish that,” he said. “I would have done it without the fans, but the fans definitely egged me on a little bit and it was fun to give them what they wanted. I was definitely nervous. I caught it pretty solid and was like, ‘Go.'”
But it wasn’t just the fans who wanted to see the shot. Jordan Spieth, was just ahead of DeChambeau and stopped on his way to the seventh green to watch, pointing to his caddie to show where DeChambeau’s ball landed. And Rory McIlroy, playing a hole behind DeChambeau, also stopped to watch.
DeChambeau is known for trying to dismantle the game, looking for scientific methods to improve his play. He also has bulked up dramatically and now swings nearly out of his shoes on every drive.
“DeChambeau, the reigning U.S. Open champion whose well-known diet and fitness regime over the past 18 months has seen him put on muscle and more than 40 pounds, has emerged as the PGA Tour’s leading driver. Last year he led with an average of more than 322 yards per drive,” wrote ESPN.