“What Bryson’s done has been incredible,” he said. “He should be applauded for it. He’s obviously seen where he can improve and distance is obviously a massive strength and he’s maximied that for sure.
“His body transformation is incredible and it’s paid off very quickly. Over the last few weeks, him and Webb Simpson have been the two most consistent players — Bryson obviously won last week [in Detroit] — and to retain the feel in his short game and his putting when you’ve piled on all the pounds and obviously bulked up is a phenomenal effort.”
These days at golf media conferences golfers are invariably asked about DeChambeau.
“That’s the most difficult thing to do. The further you hit it, the more the tangent goes more crooked, more along this line.”
Meanwhile fellow Tour pro Tony Finau says he was “inspired” by DeChambeau and that it had “got [him] thinking.”
“Whenever I get a little uncomfortable I just swing it harder, and luckily the way my golf swing is, the forces lined up a lot better for me. But no, I didn’t think it was going to come this quick.”
While Westwood commended DeChambeau for “improving himself physically,” the British golfer indicated that he thought equipment played a significant role: “Drivers and golf balls have been going further and straighter over the last few years; this hasn’t just happened over the last few months.
“We’ve been having this conversation for years now. I don’t know what the answer is. As long as you hit it a long way, you should get the benefit of it if you hit it straight. If you hit it a long way and it goes off-line and you don’t get penalized, that’s when golf has got a problem.”
Others are not so happy with how DeChambeau and massive drives are potentially changing golf.
“Bryson had 10 holes on which he was within 100 yards of the green for his approach. And if you include the four par threes that means there were only four holes on which Bryson was more than 100 yards away for his approach.
“The game has changed dramatically. It’s now brute force and a sand wedge.”
Montgomerie said he also backed Jack Nicklaus’ idea for a tournament ball that goes only “80-85% as far.”
People may not like it, but DeChambeau isn’t breaking any rules, and it certainly is not the first time a sportsperson has done something others don’t agree with in order to gain an advantage.
That is simply the nature of competitive sport.
Not bulletproof yet
February’s report also said that “increased hitting distance can begin to undermine the core principle that the challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful.”
But DeChambeau has also shown that the long-hitting approach is not foolproof.
The incident also raised questions about DeChambeau’s temperament.
An errant drive forced a drop. The California native then opted for a 3-wood from the rough and skewed the shot to the right out of bounds. The next stroke produced a similar result, but even further to the right.
He added: “From my perspective, that would be technically still in.”
It remains to be seen whether the new power game of Dechambeau, who will next compete at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational this week, will force golf to fundamentally change or force his fellow competitors to fundamentally change their games too.