US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau has declared he’s hitting the ball even further than in his major breakthrough in September and plans to tame Augusta from the tee at this week’s Masters.
The scary sight of the bulked-up world number six hitting wedges for his second shot on the famed par fives at Augusta was enough for bookmakers to install DeChambeau as equal tournament favourite.
Five-time Masters champ Tiger Woods declared what DeChambeau had done in the past 12 months, adding size to his physique purely to be able to hit the ball further, had “never been done before”.
And while plenty have predicted precision, not length off the tee, was key to winning the Masters, DeChambeau said his plan was clear.
“People have realised that hitting it further is definitely an easier way to play the game,” DeChambeau said.
“Every day I am trying to get faster and stronger, and I’m trying to hit it as far as possible. I have no idea where the end game is.
“I’ve only seen improvements in distance, strength increases, felt better every day. I am hitting it further than the US Open, and I’m trying a driver this week that may even help me hit it a little bit further.”
Woods, who was the first golfer to hit the gym hard when he was in his prime, said his bulk wasn’t about hitting the ball longer.
“What Bryson has done in the gym has been incredible … to be able to transform his game and his ability to hit the ball as far as he can in that short span of time, it’s never been done before,” Woods said.
”I hit it far in 1997 (his first Masters win) and I filled out and tried to get stronger, but it was not to hit the ball further, it was to be more consistent.
“I actually got a little it shorter as I got into my mid-20s and late 20s. I didn’t hit it as far but I got better.”
DeChambeau confirmed he had cut the corner on the famous par-five 13th, the exit of Amen Corner, which provided a “huge advantage”.
Augusta officials had planned to push the 13th tee back, buying land behind the hole, in an attempt to take that path to the green out of play.
Aussie Jason Day, who walked some holes with DeChambeau and watched him off the tee, said he’d never seen anyone take those aggressive lines at Augusta.
“He made me look like I hit it very short,” Day said.
“Some of the lines that I was watching him take I‘ve never seen anyone take before, and it’s probably to a point where back in ’97 when Tiger came here and kind of blitzed the field and he was taking on certain lines, that’s kind of the feeling that I get from that.”
But while that looms as a potential advantage, DeChambeau also conceded it couldn’t just be about big hitting if he wanted to win a green jacket.
“I had pitching wedge in at 13. I cut the corner drastically. That’s one of those if you can hit it high enough and draw it enough you can gain a pretty big advantage there,” he said.
“But I can hit is as far as I want to. It comes down to putting and chipping around here. That’s what I did well at the US Open.
“It always comes down to making the putts at the end of the day.”