Bryson DeChambeau has a masterplan to conquer The Masters...
Augusta National has been warned. Bryson DeChambeau is overpowering courses just like Tiger did before him. Fuelled by protein shakes and steak dinners, Bryson stuck two fingers up to his critics by bombing and gouging his way to a six-shot win at Winged Foot in the US Open, despite hitting just 41 percent of fairways.
Traditionalists may choke at the thought, but Bryson is changing the game and hitting it farther than anyone else on the tour. He is now one of the favourites to complete the Major double and join other bombers like Tiger, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson to be measured for a Green Jacket.
There's a reason DeChambeau is the favourite to win the 2020 Masters. He boasts the best scoring average and the most top-10 finishes of any player since the PGA Tour's restart.
Now he plans to do what has never been done before, bringing the world’s most famous track (Old Course aside) to its knees. If his latest experiment is successful, we could see an even bigger, even bulkier DeChambeau cutting corners and attacking par 4s with a long-drive champion’s 48-inch driver.
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Right now, at 6ft 1in and 235 pounds, DeChambeau’s fighting weight is comparable to Anthony Joshua, yet he’s still not satisfied. By November, he’s hoping to gain another 10 pounds. “It’s going to be a lot of working out,” he says.
Here’s how his plan of attack at Augusta National is likely to look...
Why Bryson DeChambeau is the favourite to win The Masters
DeChambeau has already dismantled one of the world's toughest courses to win his maiden Major title, and there are genuine concerns at Augusta National that he will overpower the course and blitz the field once again.
History shows that Augusta favours the long hitters and a right-to-left ball shape, and with little rough to penalise wayward tee shots, there is little to stop Bryson from employing the same ultra-aggressive strategy which was so effective at the US Open.
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If the wind is favourable and he averages 336 yards off the tee like he did at Winged Foot, he is going to be attacking nine pins with no more than a pitching wedge for his second shot.
His power advantage is likely to be even greater on par 5s, where the colder conditions could mean he is one of only a handful of players capable of reaching the green in two.
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The main problem for Bryson DeChambeau at Augusta
The only issue we can foresee is on the greens, where DeChambeau will be unable to use his tried-and-trusted Vector system to compute the break, length and green speed.
Unlike at every other PGA Tour event, the Masters doesn’t issue or allow the use of green reading books, forcing players to rely on their notes and experience instead.
“It makes it harder,” says Bryson, who three-putted five times in 2019. "All I can do out here is judge with my eyes.” It’s an unwanted inconvenience for someone who is so obsessed with numbers. But if anyone can find a way, Bryson can.
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Five ways you can be more like Bryson DeChambeau
1. Be better read
It’s one of the most controversial books ever written, but The Golfing Machine, written by Homer Kelley in 1969, inspired a 15-year-old DeChambeau to adopt a single plane swing and start using single length irons.
Now, every club in his bag is 37.5 inches long – the same length of shaft as a 6-iron – and 10 degrees more upright than normal, hence why his swing looks so funky.
He also uses XL Jumbo Max grips, the largest grips commercially available, in order to make the club feel like a baseball bat. That might explain where some of his power comes from...
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2. Train your brain
Every week, Bryson DeChambeau watches a film, usually from the action adventure genre. But it doesn’t matter what it is because he’s not watching purely for enjoyment; he’s also teaching his brain the benefits of staying calm, focused and stress-free.
Using a Neuropeak Pro brain-training unit, DeChambeau attaches a EEG sensor to his head which monitors the peaks and valleys of his brain’s electrical current as the movie plays. The goal, he says, is to avoid the spikes between the parasympathetic and sympathetic states that occur in the most stressful, intense moments. If the activity in his brain fires too high, the movie will immediately stop. Only when he relaxes his brain by controlling his breathing and reaching a calm state will the movie resume.
It sounds pretty ‘out there’, but this learning process, called operant conditioning, is not uncommon during many range sessions. Most golfers – whether knowingly or not – make physical adjustments to their swing, either through positive reinforcement from a coach or negative feedback from a TrackMan reading.
The difference is, DeChambeau is now applying the same principles to help train his brain at home. Based on the analytics he receives, DeChambeau knows exactly what levels cause the movie to shut down and resume. He now uses some of the techniques on the course, and can often be seen taking an eight-second breath in and then an eight-second breath out to achieve an optimal state of relaxation.
He would be first to acknowledge that it didn’t help him at the Memorial Tournament when a mini meltdown saw him rack up a 10 on a par 5, but like everything with Bryson, it’s a work in progress.
3. Be more experimental
Phil Mickelson calls Bryson the most interesting thinker in golf, but he also happens to be the most eccentric, telling GQ magazine that his “goal is to live until I’m 130 or 140.” How he plans to do that is a conversation for another time, but he does have a reputation for challenging conventional wisdom. Lest we forget he putted side saddle before switching to his arm-lock technique, and was even banned from using a compass in competition.
This year he’s put a 5.5-degree driver in his bag, and gained over 20 yards off the tee after borrowing techniques used by long drive specialists to transform his swing and body.
The fact Tony Finau and Phil Mickelson have already flirted with the idea suggests DeChambeau may be on to something.
4. Hit the gym – hard
You don’t gain nearly 25 yards and two stone of muscle in less than 12 months by watching golf on the sofa. During lockdown, DeChambeau practised for seven hours each day and was in the gym for at least one hour every day.
Even now, he still works out every night and counts sleep as his rest days. His focus is typically on medium-to-high reps and isolation exercises instead of compound movements like squats and deadlifts.
5. Eat until you’re full
Bryson doesn’t count calories, but he does stick to a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein.
Breakfast consists of toast, five rashers of bacon and four eggs, washed down by two of six or seven protein shakes he consumes throughout the day. Snacks are limited to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and protein bars, but when you add in his favourite dinner of steak and potatoes, he’s consuming close to 3,500 calories and around 400g of protein per day. That’s more than four times the recommended amount of protein for a man of his size.