Bryson DeChambeau fought the wind blowing in from the English Channel and the thick thatches of rough at Royal St. George’s.
And then he fought with his clubmaker.
After shooting a 1-over 71 in the first round of the British Open on Thursday, the 2020 U.S. Open champion blamed his driver for his errant tee shots and then backtracked hours later after a rebuke from a Cobra official.
“I sucked today, not my equipment," DeChambeau wrote in the apology, which was posted on Instagram around 11 p.m. local time. “The comment I made in my post round interview today was very unprofessional. My frustration and emotions over the way I drove the ball boiled over.”
DeChambeau’s bulked-up body made its links debut on the shores of Sandwich Bay, but instead of using his new strength to outdrive his opponents he needed it just to muscle his way out of the thigh-high rough. He hit just four of 14 fairways, made five bogeys to go with four birdies and finished seven strokes behind 18-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen.
“If I can hit it down the middle of the fairway, that’s great. But with the driver right now, the driver sucks,” he said. “It’s not a good face for me and we’re still trying to figure out how to make it good on the mis-hits. I’m living on the razor’s edge.”
Ben Schomin, the tour operations manager at Cobra, told Golfweek that it's a challenge to design clubs without data because no one swings as hard as DeChambeau.
“Everybody is bending over backwards,” said Schomin, who helps design and build DeChambeau’s clubs how he wants them. “He knows it. It’s just really, really painful when he says something that stupid.”
In his apology, DeChambeau said the Cobra staff was “like family to me, especially Ben Schomin.”
“I deeply regret the words I used earlier,” he wrote. “I am relentless in pursuit of improvement and perfection. Part of that causes me to become outwardly frustrated at times. ... My game is a constant work in progress and so is controlling my emotions.”
DeChambeau has missed the cut in two of the three British Opens he has played. He said he doesn't think it's the nature of links golf that causes problems; it's the weather that accompanies it.
“The times I’ve played in the British Opens in the past, I think they’ve been a little wet and windy,” he said after his practice round, noting that he played well in the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. “I usually struggle on that in general.”
But that was all before he added 40 pounds of mass and muscle so he could swing faster, hit the ball farther and gain a huge advantage by having shorter clubs to the green, even if the ball is in the rough.
“This is the first time I’ve taken my length to links golf,” DeChambeau said Tuesday. “The key is driving it in the fairway this week. No matter what, you’ve got to be in the fairway. If I get ... into the hay, probably not going to have a good chance this week.”
The poor start at Royal St. George's continues a streak of also-ran finishes since winning his only major at Winged Foot. He tied for 34th in the Masters in November, for 46th in the Masters in April, for 38th at the PGA Championship and for 26th at the U.S. Open, where he briefly had a one-shot lead in the final round.
He also lost the only caddie he’s had as a pro, Tim Tucker, which they said was a mutual decision. DeChambeau relies on his caddie not just for yardage and reading greens but for his Mad Scientist stuff like air density.
Working with DeChambeau for the first time is the replacement, Brian Zeigler, an instructor at Dallas National.
“It’s certainly throwing him into the deep end,” said DeChambeau, who posted a video on Instagram of Ziegler jumping into a swimming pool with a bag of golf clubs.
“He’s OK with it. He loves it,” DeChambeau said. “I would say that he’s still learning the ropes a little bit, which is expected on any end when you have somebody new that’s really never caddied before, but I wanted somebody on the bag that I could trust as much as I did with Tim, and I think that’s why he fit the place so well.”
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