Nov 13th, 2020
Beware the Bryson Bounce back
American showed he can grind it out with the best of them
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
DeChambeau set himself up for a fall with comments such as that he was looking at Augusta as a par 67. Social media lit up when he made a complete mess of the 13th with many delighting in his double-bogey seven.
It could have been a lot worse at that 13th hole which at only 510 yards should have been easy meat for the Californian. Bryson made a gutsy call and went for the green from the pine straw, he pulled the seven iron and found the azalea bushes that lend their name to the hole.
The players and caddies frantically searched the bushes and DeChambeau could see the tournament evaporating before his eyes. His provisional ball had found Rae's Creek and so a lost ball would result in his next shot being his sixth!
The ball was found with what seemed like seconds to spare and DeChambeau was able to escape the bushes with a two club-length penalty drop. But there was no miracle up and down for par but rather a duffed chip followed by an indifferent chip and two putt.
"Sometimes I can get a little greedy, and I like taking risks," DeChambeau said after his round.
"This golf course, as much as I'm trying to attack it, it can bite back. It's still Augusta National, and it's the Masters. It's an amazing test of golf no matter what way you play it."
"Hopefully tomorrow I'll hit it in the fairway and have a different opportunity for birdie -- if not eagle."
Lesser golfers and some of the top ones as well may have lost their heads at this point. However, Bryson dug deep and despite continued errant driving, he showed that he is not just a big hitter but has an impressive short game in his armoury.
He scrambled for par at several holes and grabbed birdies at each of the other par fives. The closing hole gave us a glimpse of what might have been could DeChambeau have been able to tame the big dog. He hit a massive drive down the 9th hole which left him a flick into some five feet below the hole for a birdie which he duly converted.
It was a rollercoaster round and turbulent in places but the 27-year-old walked off that final green with a 2-under-par 70 and back to back majors still a possibility.
"I'm very happy with the patience I delivered to the course today," DeChambeau said and one has to believe that things can only get better.
The course soaked following the three hour rain delay lacked the teeth of the normal Augusta National. Balls were stopping dead on both the fairways and greens, which also were not as glass-like as expected.
Although the course played every yard of its length the greens were receptive to shots coming in from a distance. As the course dries the advantage of only having short irons into the greens will come to the fore.
If DeChambeau can straighten it up off the tee and perhaps temper his enthusiasm for the wonder shot a little then a 'Bryson Bounce Back' is undoubtedly on the cards. We had a cheeky eleventh-hour wager on Muscles DeChambeau. Although we had visions of our cash washing down Rae's Creek at the 13th holes yesterday, we still fancy our man.
If nothing else Bryson is great box office stuff. A rejuvenated Tiger Woods was yet again rolling back the years and still, most of the buzz was around the guy who averaged 334 yards off the tee!