This time final yr, a golfer who shocked the world along with his new bulked physique and extraordinary long-hitting claimed he would conquer Augusta and carry the Masters trophy.
Bryson DeChambeau didn’t endear himself to many golf followers when he claimed that for him, Augusta could be solely a par 67, 5 fewer than the usual par for the professional tour.
The golf circus frowned upon the feedback, seeing them as smug from a participant who had one thing of a swagger already. DeChambeau was capable of drive the ball so far that he may choose a tremendous new straight line from tee to gap on some programs.
Solely final month, he delighted spectators on the Arnold Palmer Invitational, carrying his drive 370 yards straight throughout the huge lake on the intimidating 6th at Bay Hill, moderately than taking the standard line across the lake.
However Augusta is totally different. Most holes are tree-lined with Junipers and firs, making shortcuts on the dog-legs arduous, if not not possible. Accuracy off the tee is paramount, and that’s one thing that DeChambeau was unable to familiarize yourself with.
Making an attempt to smash lengthy drives throughout untried angles is punished by a course that traps the over-ambitious.
Sadly, for DeChambeau at the very least, his boast of the course being solely a par 67 for him got here again to hang-out him. He made the lower for the ultimate two days by the tightest of margins and completed tied 34th – hardly the work of a brand new challenger.
If DeChambeau was the flag-bearer of the brand new technology of golf, it wasn’t working. His end was a shot behind Bernhard Langer, the 63-year-old German who was rolling again the years at Augusta.
That was final yr; that is now
Because of the 2020 Masters occasion being performed in November, owing to the coronavirus outbreak, there have been solely 5 months between that and this yr’s showpiece match.
But, in that point, observers have seen a delicate shift in Bryson DeChambeau’s manner. Sure, the big-hitting remains to be there, however there appears to be much less swagger. For a lot of, that swagger was solely a canopy as a result of this was a person uncomfortable with the eye – and in some quarters, ridicule – he was getting for his new physique and elegance.
However now he appears to have turn out to be accustomed to what he’s – and he has seen that he has rising help from the crowds now allowed, in restricted numbers at the very least, again on to the golf course.
The help he received at Bay Hill was astonishing – and this second will final lengthy within the reminiscence…
Additional, there’s a suspicion that DeChambeau has learnt to tame his personal energy a little bit, to make use of it solely when the prospect of success is excessive.
That, mixed with an honest run of kind that features successful the US Open final September, makes him one of many favourites for Augusta. He received’t be making smug claims in regards to the par of the course this week; as an alternative, he’ll maintain his head down and choose his manner across the course with new-found respect.
The bookies are not often mistaken, they usually have DeChambea at 10/1 to win the Masters, second favorite behind final yr’s winner, Dustin Johnson.
Whereas it’s to be anticipated that Johnson, the world’s primary, could be favorite once more this yr, his kind shouldn’t be convincing, and he had not completed larger than 8th in a match since that November Sunday a number of brief months in the past.
Not solely that, however rivals who would possibly often be anticipated to present DeChambeau a run for his cash are additionally off their sport. Maybe the most effective instance of that’s Rory McIlroy. He’s nonetheless quoted as 16/1 to win the Masters, however his kind is woeful. He has modified his coach as he seeks to search out some spark in his sport.
John Rahm has been quiet by his requirements; Jordan Spieth is exhibiting indicators of getting again to his finest however has an extended solution to go, in order that leaves Justin Thomas because the most certainly participant to problem Johnson and DeChambeau.
There would possibly all the time be a shock from the less-known pack, in fact. Some clever cash would possibly go on Sungjae Im, who was runner-up in November at Augusta and has a tour win to his identify already in his younger profession. He’s out at 33/1 for this yr’s occasion and may very well be a sensible each-way guess.
With all that being mentioned, it appears to be like like now may very well be the time for Bryson DeChambeau to tame Augusta. It may very well be his for the taking. Preserve his cool, keep respectful of Augusta’s challenges, and he may very well be the one carrying the well-known inexperienced jacket on Sunday night. If they’ll discover one large enough.