There may be some stirring, shuffling and scurrying about taking place on the other side of the hedges and gates that surround and protect Augusta National this week after what the Masters powers that be just witnessed at the US Open.
Bryson DeChambeau dismantled Winged Foot en route to winning the US Open with a bombs-away style that has to make the Masters officials shudder at the thought of what he might do to their golf course in November, as he tries to win a second consecutive major championship.
If DeChambeau was able to win the US Open by six shots, the only player to finish under par on a golf course with suffocating fairways and strangling rough, what might he be able do at Augusta National, where the fairways are generous and there’s virtually no rough?
This is how DeChambeau described his week’s work at Winged Foot, when he was asked by the Golf Channel on Sunday night if he feels like he beat the 143 other players in the field or if he beat the golf course: “I beat the golf course. I dominated it.’’
DeChambeau, who’s constantly tinkering with his game and his body, made it clear after his US Open victory that has no plans to take his foot off the accelerator as the Masters approaches in November.
“I’m not going to stop,’’ he said. “Next week, I’m going to be trying a 48-inch driver. We’re going to be messing with some head designs and do some amazing things with Cobra to make it feasible to hit these drives maybe 360, 370, maybe even farther.’’
He, too, revealed that he wants to gain even more muscle weight on top of the 30 or so pounds he’s put on in the past 10 months. For the record, DeChambeau said he’s 6-foot-1, 230 to 235 right now. Asked if he wants to be bigger in time for the Masters, he said, “Yeah.’’
“I think I can get to 245,’’ he said.
Look out, Augusta.
“Length is going to be a big advantage there,’’ DeChambeau said.
It always has been at Augusta. That’s a reason why Jack Nicklaus won there six times, because he hit it longer than his peers.
After Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in 1997 and turned fabled Augusta National into a pitch-and-putt, en route to winning by 12 shots at a record 19-under par, tournament officials famously began to modify the course, lengthening it and adding trees to tighten it up as a way to “Tiger-proof’’ it.
“I don’t know what they can do really because he’s hitting it so far,’’ Louis Oosthuizen said of DeChambeau. “And, he’s probably one of the best putters out there, which in a week that he really putts well you’re going to have a lot of trouble.’’
When DeChambeau was asked after his win what he thinks USGA officials might be saying about him in their post-U.S. Open “debrief’’ he said, “He’s hitting it forever. That’s why he won.’’
“It’s tough to rein in athleticism,’’ DeChambeau said. “We’re always going to be trying to get fitter, stronger, more athletic. Tiger inspired this whole generation to do this, and we’re going to keep going after it. I don’t think it’s going to stop. Will they rein it back? I’m sure. I’m sure something might happen. But I don’t know what it will be. I just know that length is always going to be an advantage.’’
Xander Schauffele, who finished fifth at Winged Foot, said DeChambeau “is sort of trending in the new direction of golf.’’
“If you look at people that have dominated, it’s always been distance,’’ Schauffele said. “Obviously, Tiger had the mix of touch and feel and everything. If you look back, he was sort of the first guy to really hit it far with those clubs. Jack hit is really far as well. All the greats hit it pretty far for the most part. It’s no longer sort of a touchy-feely game.’’
Rory McIlroy insisted he doesn’t “shudder’’ to think of what DeChambeau might do to deflower Augusta National.
“If he can do it around here [Winged Foot] … I’m thinking of Augusta and thinking of the way you sort of play there,’’ McIlroy said. “It’s brilliant, but I think he’s taken advantage of where the game is at the minute. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, it’s just the way it is. He’s just taking advantage of what we have right now.’’
Rest assured, Augusta National is watching.