Despite yanking his drive into the bushes on 18 on way to a triple bogey, Bryson DeChambeau sits only four back of leader Jordan Spieth as he continues his quest to become the first amateur to win the Masters.
Whether the 22-year-old attains what no other ever achieved at the “tradition unlike any other” most golf insiders believe the reigning U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion will be a force on the PGA tour in the years to come.
The SMU graduate, who hails from Clovis, California, just outside of Fresno, walks to the beat of a different drum—and swings his golf clubs on a different plane. DeChambeau, a physics major, crafted a golf swing that travels on one plane in more of an up and down path, unlike the traditional golf swing that operates on two planes and works in a rotary manner.
The one-plane swing serves DeChambeau well. He learned it from Homer Kelley’s esoteric book The Golfing Machine. DeChambeau memorized the instructions and put them to good use on Friday at Augusta National. Up until the wily tee shot on the last hole, the young amateur stood at three under par, enjoying the best round of the day to that point. DeChambeau completed the first two rounds with a pair of 72s and enters Saturday’s round in a tie for 8th place.
Aside from a strange golf swing the Californian also modified the length of all his irons to measure exactly 37.5 inches, the length of his 7-iron, reports PGA.com. With every club the same length, DeChambeau maintains that they can all be swung the same way.
DeChambeau heard that golf legend and the designer of Augusta National, Bobby Jones, also played with similar modification to his clubs. On his first visit to Augusta National the amateur, who plans on going pro after this week’s tournament, was excited to see an iron set on display in a glass case in the club’s grill room.
“It was a pretty special moment, because we’d always heard that story, never verified it,” DeChambeau observed. “But when I actually got to go up to that case and I looked in, I went, ‘Oh my goodness’ … It inspired me even more. It was gratifying to our journey.”
Not surprisingly, DeChambeau entertains one other minor idiosyncrasy—he has a name for every one of his clubs, with the monikers etched into each of them. His 60-degree wedge, for example, he named “The King,” after Arnold Palmer, who won the Masters in 1960.
He told Newsday that his 55-degree wedge is Ward for Harvey Ward, the low amateur at Augusta in 1955. What does he call his 50-degree wedge? That would be his Jimmy, commemorating 1950 Masters champion Jimmy Demaret.
“He comes at the game from such a different point of view,” two-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson recounted after a playing a practice round with the youngster who wears the Hogan hat but analyzes the game more like Stephen Hawking. “He has such well-thought out opinions as to why and how it should be played a certain way, a different way, the way that he plays it.
“He’s a terrific player,” he added, “Fun to be around.”
Based on how things go this weekend, DeChambeau may have a new name for one of his clubs. Perhaps he can name his one iron ‘The Amateur” to commemorate being top amateur at his first Masters. If things go even better, maybe next week when he asks his caddy for one of his clubs, he can say, “Hey, give me the ‘green jacket.’”