The past two weeks have been exactly what Bryson DeChambeau needed.
After a summer filled with unnecessary drama including a media boycott, DeChambeau played a starring role in the United States’ Ryder Cup victory then looked at home in the Professional Long Drivers Association World Championship last week near Las Vegas.
He was losing the public relations battle.
His Ryder Cup enthusiasm – if Justin Thomas was captain of the American cheerleading squad, DeChambeau with his arm waving was JT’s vice captain – did more than stir up the pro-American crowd.
It showed how much DeChambeau wanted to be part of the team and, by extension, one of the guys. The world needed to see a warm, smiling DeChambeau and that’s what he showed.
Dechambeau is a different dude.
He sees the world from a different angle, swings the golf club a different way and approaches his work with different goals
The long drive competition is a freak show. … The reason people are fascinated by it is because those guys can do what the rest of us can hardly imagine.
While making the PGA Tour more interesting, DeChambeau had backed himself into a corner with some of the things he said, most of them out of frustration. He was put on the defensive by the social media feud with Brooks Koepka and his fascination with the long ball, especially his comments that he had damaged his hands training before the Ryder Cup (actually weeks before, not days before) didn’t help.
The past two weeks changed the narrative.
The long drive competition is a freak show. That’s meant to be descriptive not demeaning. The reason people are fascinated by it is because those guys can do what the rest of us can hardly imagine.
What DeChambeau demonstrated – and he is perhaps the only one who can straddle this line – is it’s possible to do both. The single most memorable shot at the Ryder Cup was his downwind 417-yard tee shot on the fifth hole at Whistling Straits, leaving him 72 yards into a par-5 green.
He did it on the game’s biggest stage and when he got to Nevada last week, DeChambeau could truly flex. The fact he finished among the top eight was impressive.
It has been a good two weeks for him.
Attention Captain Love
There is no quibbling with the 12-player United States Ryder Cup team selected by captain Steve Stricker, especially after their dominating victory at Whistling Straits two weeks ago.
If anything, the depth of talent that Stricker picked from may have been greater than any American captain has had in recent memory.
Sam Burns’ victory Sunday in the Sanderson Farms Championship is more evidence of that.
The 25-year old Burns was among a handful of players who had reason to think they might be added to the Ryder Cup team when the day came for Stricker to make his phone calls.
Burns, who hits it a mile and has had rising star practically stamped across his shoulders for a while, had a win, two seconds and a third-place finish last season. He also closed fast, finishing T2, T21, 8 and T18 in his four starts before Stricker finalized his roster.
It’s not accurate to say Burns didn’t do enough. The problem was Stricker had so many choices.
“I think getting the call from Stricker on Monday and hearing the news that I didn’t make the team was definitely very motivating and definitely kind of gut wrenching,” Burns said Sunday after his second PGA Tour victory.
“I think it’s definitely motivated me to try to be on the next team and continue to try to improve and hopefully be on it the next go.”
Remember last month when Billy Horschel won the European Tour’s BMW Championship after not even getting a call from Stricker while thinking he was in the mix for a captain’s pick?
“It sucks not making the team,” Horschel said after his victory. “I was a little gutted I didn’t get a call this week. I didn’t think the call was going to say I made the team, but I was a little gutted that I didn’t get a call to say, ‘You didn’t make the team.’ I thought I would at least get that. There was a little more added motivation this week after that.”
That’s two victories by players who weren’t chosen for the Ryder Cup team. It could be a nice problem to have for Presidents Cup captain Davis Love III next summer.
Player-caddie relationships vary. In some cases, they are essential to a player’s success. In others, they’re strictly a business relationship.
For Justin Thomas, having veteran looper Jimmy Johnson by his side the past six years was a huge benefit. Johnson was the right man at the right time for one of the best talents in the game.
With Johnson deciding to step aside – he made the decision to leave Thomas, not the other way around – JT made the right call to hire Jim “Bones” Mackay.
They’ve worked together in the past, usually in one-off situations, and their chemistry is apparent. Mackay did very good work on the Golf Channel (he will continue to do some TV work when time allows) by giving viewers a sense of what players and caddies are talking about.
Now Mackay will be talking directly to Thomas, who has the potential to be the best player in the world. It looks like the perfect landing spot for both of them.
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