DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau launched his first tee shot that mattered seven weeks after he had surgery on his left hand for a broken hamate bone. The swelling was going down, he felt no pain even hitting a hybrid out of the rough and he was impressed with all but one thing.
“My golf swing is a wreck,” DeChambeau said.
In his first tournament since the Masters, he missed the cut at the Memorial with rounds of 76-77 and headed home to Dallas for a few days of rest and then full days of practice ahead of the U.S. Open.
“I just didn't have anything,” DeChambeau said. “My attitude was great. I loved being out here again. It just sucks playing bad golf.”
He laughed before adding, “Just trying to climb the mountain top again.”
When he returned from golf's pandemic-caused shutdown with an additional 40 pounds of muscle and mass, and a ball speed that was approaching 200 mph, DeChambeau won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot and reached as high as No. 4 in the world.
He's more interested in a few years prior, specifically 2017 and 2018. He wasn't as big. He wasn't as strong. But he considers that his best golf, and that's what he wants to create again.
“I hit it well in 2020 and 2021 sometimes,” he said. “I did something in ‘17-18 that was magical to me, where I felt like I was invincible. Every day I could hit the same exact shot no matter what — no matter the conditions, no matter the pressure, no matter nothing. For me, I've been trying to create those motions, and I can't find it."
DeChambeau appreciates that he is bigger, even though he is losing a little weight, and that his chest is wider and he's still chasing speed in his swing. He thinks that should have no bearing on finding the motion to “get to a place where it's similar every time.”
He said there were a number of times in 36 holes at Muirfield Village where he would take the club inside for a draw and the ball wound up cutting.
“It makes no sense," DeChambeau said. “There's a huge misconception between my perception and reality. I can't resolve those. It's a mystery.”
He has a week to figure it out.
Think of Jack Nicklaus and the greatest putts he ever made in winning his record 18 majors and thoughts turn to the 17th hole in the 1986 Masters, where he won his sixth green jacket ("Yes, sir!" was the call from Verne Lundquist), or the 45-foot birdie on the 16th hole when he pulled ahead in the 1975 Masters.
Nicklaus doesn't see it that way. He considers his greatest putt to be an 8-footer for par that probably was seen only by those around the 18th green at the Broadmoor in Colorado for the 1959 U.S. Amateur.
“I had an 8-footer at the last hole to win and beat Charlie Coe. We were all even coming to the last hole. I made that putt,” Nicklaus said. "Well, that told me that I could make a putt under pressure when it really counted for a significant event. That to me was the most important putt I ever made. Winning breeds winning, so then you do it again, you do it again.
“Pretty soon you can’t wait to get to the 18th hole to do it again.”
Rory McIlroy played The Country Club a few years ago in a round with friends, hardly a scouting trip ahead of the U.S. Open.
His strongest memories of Brookline was in front of a TV when he was 10, watching the Americans rally from a 10-6 deficit to win the Ryder Cup. The clincher was Justin Leonard making a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.
“I hated Justin Leonard for the longest time. Didn’t know him. Never met him. And I met him, eventually played on tour just as he was finishing his career, and he’s the nicest guy. But that was a hard one,” McIlroy said.
There was another memory that stands out — Padraig Harrington walking some 150 yards up to the 17th green to check on the pin position. It wasn't the first time and at one point Dick Enberg on NBC said, “Harrington's pre-shot routine gives new meaning to the Boston Marathon.”
“I remember thinking ... whoever was playing against him, I would be furious,” McIlroy said.
That was Mark O'Meara, who ended up losing to the Irishman on the 18th hole.
CHARLIE SIFFORD CUP
Six golf teams from historically Black colleges and and universities will be competing for a cup a month before the Presidents Cup.
The inaugural Charlie Sifford Centennial Cup will be Aug. 29 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Presidents Cup will be at Quail Hollow on Sept. 21-25.
Johnson C. Smith University is the host school. Howard, Florida A&M, Alabama State and Texas Southern all qualified for the competition, while Livingstone College made it as the top Division II HBCU program. Qualifying was determined by the Golfstat ranking from May 5.
Teams get complimentary travel and lodging. Players will be split into teams of 12 competing in fourballs in the morning and singles in the afternoon.
“My father’s vision was that the golf establishment provide equal access to make the game of golf more inclusive to all people, said Charles Sifford Jr., son of the first Black member of the PGA Tour. “He dreamed of young people playing a championship course with the opportunity to acquire experience and knowledge of what it takes to compete at the highest level.”
The R&A has received so many entries for the British Open at St. Andrews that it added two more venues for the first stage of qualifying at The Buckinghamshire and Lindrick Golf Club. Lindrick hosted the 1957 Ryder Cup. ... The PGA of America has sold Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, to a group of club members. The course designed by Jack Nicklaus has hosted the PGA Championship three times and the Ryder Cup in 2008. ... Sadena Parks won the women’s division of The John Shippen National Golf Invitational. That gets her an exemption into the Meijer LPGA Classic and the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on the LPGA Tour. ... Natasha Andrea Oon of San Jose State has won the Inkster Award. Named after Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, it recognizes the highest-ranked NCAA Division I player in her final year of eligibility.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Dustin Johnson is No. 15 in the world, his lowest world ranking since he was No. 16 the first week in March 2015.
“You meet a stranger in the street and he knows a little about golf.” — Keiser University freshman Jakob Stavang Stubhaug of Norway on Viktor Hovland's impact on his homeland. Stubhaug won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the best player in the NAIA division.
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