A flurry of camera phones switch to video mode as DeChambeau prepares to hit the ball off the 12th tee and deadly calm descends on the masses, the atmosphere heightened by the sea breeze coming in from the English Channel.
The ensuing powerful strike of DeChambeau’s hulk-like figure sends reverberations of oohs and ahhs through the crowd of spectators.
“How does your back survive this?” Said a fan in amazement. It’s as if Dechambeau is golf’s answer to Superman. Another fan says that while he can keep up with other players’ balls, DeChambeau travels too fast for his eyes.
DeChambeau’s group at the 149th Open at Royal St George’s – alongside Jordan Spieth and Branden Grace – were one of the most popular in the first round, drawing large audiences as the trio of golfers made their way around the famous course , which is based in the county of Kent, known as the ‘Garden of England’.
The Open was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it’s understandable that fans are thrilled to see the world’s best golfers compete in the UK.
The entry of the US Open 2020 winner to the first tee was greeted with loud cheers, a few whistles and a few cries of encouragement under the bright morning sun.
After almost two years without golf, first tee fans would have been disappointed when the hard hitting American – famous for his booming workouts and using science to perfect his game – opted for an iron on the hole opening, which he ultimately bogey.
Everywhere DeChambeau roamed the Kent course, fans followed in his footsteps – along with a constant chorus of: “Come on Bryson” – some first-time witnesses to the golfer’s strength.
However, the course of the links – close to the sea where the wind is often a big factor – provided a severe test for DeChambeau, a test his powerful approach often couldn’t overcome.
He finished par after his first round, seven shots behind clubhouse leader Louis Oosthuizen.
A streak of three back-to-back birdies over the last nine drew him to a sub, but two bogeys in the last four holes meant DeChambeau had to settle for a first round 71.
Throughout the opening round, DeChambeau struggled with his big driver, reaching just four out of 14 fairways.
“If I can hit him in the middle of the fairway it’s great, but with the driver right now the driver sucks,” the 27-year-old said after his round.
“That’s not a good face to me and we’re still trying to figure out how to do it well on misses. I live on a razor’s edge like I’ve told people for a long time.
“It’s pretty tough for me because it’s a fairly short golf course, and so when I hit the driver and he doesn’t go down the fairway, it’s the first cut or whatever, or that is in the hay it’s hard for me to get like once in the middle of the fairway like I did on 18 I was able to hit a nice shot at 11 feet and almost birdie. “
As DeChambeau struggled, his playing partner Spieth had a more peaceful time.
The three-time major winner managed six birdies and a single bogey en route to a five-under-par and a single shot from clubhouse leader Oosthuizen.
After a tough few years on the PGA Tour after breaking onto the scene as a youngster, Spieth seems to have rediscovered his touch in recent months, finishing third at the Masters in April and claiming his first victory in 1,351 days at the Valero Texas Open Fair. before the Augusta tournament.
“To be honest, the path I’m on and where I’ve been in the game before, I feel really good about my chances of moving forward, as good as they’ve been historically,” Spieth told the media.
“As far as I’m surprised or not, I guess I feel like I’ve been following the right trend and certainly had a chance this year at Augusta before. I made a few mistakes in the first round. and in the second round that I shouldn’t have committed I could very well have won this golf tournament this year, I like where I am.
“Again, I feel like I’m making good progress. I really took a few steps back on the weekend at Colonial through the US Open, and I know what it was now and I have tried to do a good job over the last few weeks to come back to the same and even pass it on from where I was already progressing. “
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