Bryson dechambeau plays the game his own way

Bryson DeChambeau plays the game his own way

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For a complete ESPN. com experience, please upgrade or use a supported browser Bob Harig , ESPN Senior Writer 4/3/2016 Bryson DeChambeau plays the game his own way Golf

There are plenty of young players with talent. That is apparent every week on the PGA Tour, and in the Official World Golf Rankings, where the top three players are all in their 20s, each with a major championship, too.

But the combination of talent and ingenuity is what makes Bryson DeChambeau such a compelling figure as he competes in his first Masters next week and his last tournament as an amateur.

DeChambeau, 22, plays with “single-length” irons and wedges. Each club measures 37.5 inches and is built with a 6-iron shaft. All have head weights of 280 grams. And he uses oversized grips on each of his clubs.

It is a method used by … nobody else at the top levels of golf.

This discussion can get as technical as you want, and DeChambeau went through all manner of testing to get it right, but he is no doubt bringing a unique approach to playing golf.

“Everybody is an individual and I hope what I can get the world to look at is I play the game my way,” said DeChambeau, who is eligible for the Masters based on his U. S. Amateur victory last summer. “Everybody has their own characteristics, efficiencies of motion based on their body types. It depends on the person at hand.

“The whole reason why I’m doing this is so I can show everybody it’s based on your own body type.”

DeChambeau started experimenting with the concept when he was 15 with the help of his coach Mike Schy, who advocates a single swing. Schy also got DeChambeau to read the 1969 book by Homer Kelley called “The Golfing Machine,” in which the method is discussed at length.

It took a couple of years of experimentation, but DeChambeau came upon the idea of making all the clubs the same length, then backed it up by becoming one of the top amateurs in the game.

Last year he won the NCAA individual title while playing at SMU, then won the U. S. Amateur in the summer — becoming only the fifth player to accomplish the feat in the same year along with Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore.

When the SMU athletic department suffered NCAA sanctions last fall that included prohibiting the golf program from participating in the NCAA tournament, DeChambeau decided to leave school but continue to compete as an amateur.

And it might have been the best thing that could have happened to him.

In November, DeChambeau tied for second at the Australian Masters after a closing 67. In January he took part in the European Tour’s Desert Swing, competing in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai. He made the cut in every event and was the first-round co-leader in Dubai.

“I seriously believe it was a blessing in disguise,” DeChambeau said. “It’s unfortunate for the guys on the team, the seniors there. I feel bad for them. But it was a blessing in disguise for me. I had two paths and made it real sort of clear and it helped push me in a certain direction.”

And that was to play professional events as an amateur, an internship of sorts that saw him grouped twice with Rory McIlroy, during the third round in Abu Dhabi and the final round a few weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational — where DeChambeau closed with a 66.

“He’s a great young player,” McIlroy said. “He’s very mature for his age, very smart. He’s got a really, really bright future. Seeing the way he played out there, he has real control of his golf ball. He can hit it both ways, control the trajectory.

“He thinks well around the golf course, is a good putter. He’s got every aspect of the game. I said to him, ‘If you keep playing like this, I’ll be seeing a lot more of you.’ I think it’s an exciting time for him. He was telling me obviously that he’s got the Masters coming up but then it all starts coming up after that to try and get his tour card.”

That quest begins the week after the Masters, when he makes his pro debut at the RBC Heritage. DeChambeau will then have six more sponsor exemptions to try and earn enough money and/or FedEx points to rank among the top 125, which would make him exempt for next season.

Short of that, if he finishes among the top 200, he can attend the Web. com Tour Finals, where the top 25 not already exempt for 2016-17 also get a playing card.

“I really enjoy playing with Bryson,” said defending Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who played with DeChambeau during a practice round at last year’s U. S. Open as well as in Abu Dhabi. “He’s really bright, very confident in his own way of doing things, which is important and which I think will get him to and keep him on the next level.

“It’s unique. I go into his bag all the time, I think he swings 90 miles an hour with every single one of his clubs and he sets it and he’s done the research and he believes in it and he’s seen success with it and that’s really all you need.”

First there is the matter of the Masters, and DeChambeau has been to Augusta National several times starting in December to prepare, including this weekend.

The first visit with Schy turned emotional.

“It was fun driving down Magnolia lane with him,” DeChambeau said. “It was a teary-eyed moment, a special moment I’ll never forget.”

He is unlikely to forget the Masters itself. As per tradition, he will grouped during the first two rounds with Spieth as the U. S. Amateur champion.

“It will be a lot of fun out there,” Spieth said. “I don’t think the moment will overcome him. I think he’ll be ready to go and I think he’ll really embrace it and I look for him to actually play pretty well at the Masters.” © 2016 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information/Your California Privacy Rights are applicable to you. All rights reserved. More From ESPN:

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