AUGUSTA, Ga. — At the 2020 Masters, Bryson DeChambeau famously said his strategy would be to play Augusta National as a par-67 course because he was hitting the ball so far off the tee.
DeChambeau didn’t come close to that number that year, tying for 34th. The next year, he finished over par in three of four rounds and tied for 46th. In 2022, he was 12 over after 36 holes and missed the cut.
Does DeChambeau regret making those comments?
“Do I regret? Everybody has a perspective on it,” DeChambeau said Monday. “I don’t think I regret anything. What I do understand is that I have a lot of respect for the course. Because of that statement, [people] think I don’t have respect for the course. Are you kidding me? This is one of the greatest golf courses in the entire world, and if anybody thinks I don’t have respect for the course, they’d better go check out who I actually am, because it’s not accurate one bit.”
Before the 2020 Masters, which was played in November because of COVID-19 restrictions, DeChambeau boasted: “I’m looking at it as a par-67 for me because I can reach all the par-5s in 2, no problem. If the conditions stay the way they are, that’s what I feel like par is for me. That’s not me being bigheaded. I can hit it as far as I want to.”
In hindsight, DeChambeau said he wishes he had explained his feelings differently.
“Hypothetically, theoretically, look, if you make 18 birdies, it’s going to be 54, right?” DeChambeau said. “It’s a perfect score, right? Unattainable, 67 every day, unattainable. It can happen, but is it likely to happen? Probably not. With the distance I’m hitting it and was hitting it, I thought there was a possibility, but that’s only with your A-game, and I should have rephrased that. If you have your A-game, there’s a good chance of being able to do that.”
Augusta National has delivered DeChambeau a healthy dose of humility since he made those comments.
“Long story short, I don’t want anybody to take it out of context,” he said. “I just want it to be known for the fact that I have great respect for this course, and clearly what did I shoot last year and missed the cut? A lot? I shot like 10 over, so what’s that, 5 shots more, something like that? So 10 more shots? So I shot like 22-over par. I can make a joke about it. Do I regret it? I learn from all my mistakes.”
As DeChambeau prepares for another Masters start on Thursday, a lot has changed. He is no longer a member of the PGA Tour, and he is captain of Crushers GC in the rival LIV Golf League. He also has slimmed down quite a bit. He said a blood test revealed he was sensitive to several foods, including corn, wheat and gluten. He said he has less inflammation and lost 18 pounds in 24 days.
“I was pleased with that improvement in my body, and I feel like my whole body has gotten a lot better in general just having less inflammation,” DeChambeau said. “I may not hit it as far and have necessarily the energy, but I feel healthier, and I’m just in a better place with my body. I don’t feel like I can have as many injuries, which is nice.”
In December, DeChambeau underwent surgery to remove a retention cyst from his sinuses, which he said caused him to suffer bouts of vertigo going back to the 2020 Masters. In April 2022, he had surgery to repair a fractured hook of the hamate bone in his left wrist.
Ranked No. 4 in the world after his victory in the 2020 U.S. Open, DeChambeau hasn’t won in more than two years and is now ranked 155th. He hasn’t finished higher than 10th in nine LIV Golf events over the past two seasons, and he was 21st in points last year. He is 33rd in points after three tournaments this year.
DeChambeau is still trying to get his game back in order. He has given up on his quest for increased length off the tee and is concentrating on the fundamentals of his swing.
“I swung it really hard and got it to 96 [yards] on [the fifth hole], hit it right over the bunkers,” DeChambeau said. “But again, it can go offline pretty far if it’s not hit perfectly. I’m probably 90 percent where I was with a little bit more control. So, you know, that’s kind of where I’m staying at right now, and I feel comfortable with the misses. That’s the main part. If I can miss it well around this golf course, I’ll give myself a chance.”
After three straight less-than-spectacular performances at Augusta National, what are DeChambeau’s expectations for this week?
“I don’t come here to finish second, but I will say that I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can get there,” he said.