It's tough to rein in athleticism, says new US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau

American delivers message to R&A and USGA over distance debate

New US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau kisses the trophy in celebration after his six-shot success at Winged Foot. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
New US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau kisses the trophy in celebration after his six-shot success at Winged Foot. Picture: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Bryson DeChambeau, the newly-crowned US Open champion after a stunning six-shot success at Winged Foot, believes the R&A and USGA will eventually take new steps to try and rein in golf equipment but says they are powerless to curb the most important thing in his armoury.

"It's tough to rein in athleticism," said the 27-year-old American as he savoured his maiden major win, having produced one of the most impressive last-day performances the game has witnessed to become just the third player to finish in red figures in the USGA event at the tough Mamaroneck venue.

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"We're always going to be trying to get fitter, stronger, more athletic," added DeChambeau, who signed off with a 67 - the only sub-par round of the day - to finish with a six-under-par total. "Tiger [Woods] 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."

Initially, DeChambeau believed he could make his mark at the top level in the game through a scientific approach and that is still something he relies on. It's mainly down to major muscle, though, that he has managed to make the big breakthrough, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win NCAA, US Amateur and US Open titles.

While the process started a year ago, he came out of the Covid-19 lockdown boasting an incredible physical transformation, having gone up two shirt sizes after adding 40 pounds. His strategy since the PGA Tour re-started in June has been to grip it and rip it and now he's just overpowered one of the hardest courses in major golf.

"He's hitting it forever and that's why he won," replied DeChambeau to being asked what he thought the reaction from the USGA, currently working in tandem on a distance project with the R&A, would be to him claiming their title despite hitting just 23 fairways in four rounds. "I mean, it was a tremendous advantage this week. I kept telling everybody it's an advantage to hit it farther.

"Will they rein it back? 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. I was hitting it on just a normal average for a Tour player a year ago, and then I got a lot stronger, worked out every day, been working out every day, and, all of a sudden - not because of clubs, but because of me - I was able to gain 20-25 yards.

"And I'm not going to stop. 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."

That doesn't augur well for upcoming major venues like the Old Course at St Andrews, but, in fairness to DeChambeau, he also displayed a brilliant short game at Winged Foot, hence why his strokes gained total of 7.90 was fourth-highest by a US Open champion since 1960.

"As difficult as this golf course was presented, I played it beautifully," he reflected. "For me, it's about the journey of can I execute every shot more repeatedly than everybody else. I was able to do that this week. That's why I won by six, yeah."

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The victory, which lifted him to fifth in the world, comes on the back of six successes in regular PGA Tour events and one on the European Tour, having landed the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last year.

"I think I'm definitely changing the way people think about the game and I hope my way inspires some people," said DeChambeau, having joined Collin Morikawa (US PGA Championship), Sophia Popov (AIG Women's Open) and Mirim Lee (ANA Inspiration) in becoming a first-time major winner in the post-Covid era.

"My goal playing golf is to try and figure it out. I'm just trying to figure out this very complex, multivariable game, and multidimensional game as well. It's very, very difficult. It's a fun journey for me. I hope that inspires people to say, hey, look, maybe there is a different way to do it. Not everybody has to do it my way. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying in general that there are different ways to do things.

"Like Arnie [Arnold Palmer] said, swing your swing. That's what I do. That's what (Winged Foot runner-up) Matthew Wolff does. That's what Tiger does. That's what Phil [Mickelson] does. That's what everybody does, and we're all trying to play the best golf we can."

Rory McIlroy, who had to settle for a share of ninth spot in the season's second major, after having the wind taken out of his sails straight away in the final round as he four-putted the first green, led the praise for DeChambeau's display.

"He's got full belief in what he's doing, and it's pretty impressive," said the four-time major winner. "I played with him at Colonial the first week back out, but I sort of said, okay, wait until he gets to a proper golf course, he'll have to rein it back in. This is as proper as they come, and look at what's happened.

"I think it's brilliant, but I think he's taken advantage of where the game is at the minute. Whether that's good or bad, but it's just the way it is. With the way he approaches it, with the arm-lock putting, with everything, it's just where the game's at right now. I'm not saying that's right or wrong. He's just taking advantage of what we have right now."

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