Bryson DeChambeau of the United States plays his shot from the 17th tee during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on November 09, 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau blasted routine tee shots 325 yards on the back nine Monday in his first official practice round for the 84th Masters, serving notice to Augusta National of his intent to overpower the famed course.

While the 27-year-old American didn’t break the Masters layout as some feared after his US Open romp, he certainly made a dent in it, using pitching wedges into the same Amen Corner holes that playing partner Tiger Woods told him he used during his 1997 Masters win.

“I’ve had to relearn the golf course,” DeChambeau told The Golf Channel. “There are so many holes that play so differently for me.”

DeChambeau, who says he plays the par-72 layout as a par-67, found all fairways except at 18, where he went over a left-side fairway bunker and still had a clear shot at the green.

“All my misses have been pretty straight,” he said. “I want to keep it that way.”  

Instead of playing the front nine, DeChambeau went back to the practice range, working out with his driver, only 45 1/2-inches instead of the 48-inch one he threatened to unveil this week after devastating Winged Foot in September’s US Open.

“It’s not right. I won’t use it until it’s right,” DeChambeau said. “There’s always the next Masters.”

DeChambeau, who bulked up his physique during golf’s Covid-19 layoff from March to June, never faced a shot into a green beyond 185 yards.

The scientist golfer favors distance above all else, ignoring possible deep rough for distance and position. With only minor rough at the Masters, the stage could be set for an epic overpowering of the course.

“He’s trying to just take everything out of play,” said fellow ball-basher Matthew Wolff, the 21-year-old US Open runner-up.

“The way that me, Bryson and other people are going with hitting it longer, my goal is to not overpower a golf course. It just so happens that sometimes I can do that because I do hit the ball far.”

Covid-stricken Garcia out

While the approaches and putts must still be top grade, rivals like Patrick Cantlay appreciate the edge extra length gives DeChambeau.

“It has been impressive,” Cantlay said. “I think this place probably fits it about as good as any place. It doesn’t surprise me he’s hitting it much farther than other guys and having success.”

DeChambeau and Woods, the 15-time major champion trying for his record 83rd US PGA victory and record-tying sixth Masters title, were joined on the back nine for the afternoon by 1992 Masters winner Fred Couples and 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.

DeChambeau’s buzz mixed with the shock exit of 2017 winner Sergio Garcia after the 40-year-old Spaniard tested positive for Covid-19.

Garcia, coming off his first US PGA win since the Masters last month, said Monday he tested positive after missing the cut in last week’s Houston Open, the first US-based PGA event to have spectators with 2,000 allowed each day.

“On Saturday night after driving back from the Houston Open, I started feeling a bit of a sore throat and a cough,” Garcia tweeted.

“The symptoms stayed with me on Sunday morning so I decided to get tested for COVID-19 and so did my wife Angela. Thankfully she tested negative, but I didn’t.”

For the first time in history, the Masters is taking place in November rather than its traditional April slot following disruption to the season caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which also has forced a ban on spectators.

One worry for DeChambeau and other big-hitters was in the forecast, with rain and thunderstorms in the projections until the weekend. Soggy conditions could deny extra roll to the ball off the tee but help approaches hold onto the notoriously treacherous greens.

It became tougher to make the Masters cut Monday as Augusta National said it was ending an extension to its cut policy that allowed anyone within 10 strokes of the lead into the weekend as well as the top 50 and those level after 36 holes.

Since 1962, anyone within 10 strokes of the lead had been allowed into the third and fourth Masters rounds no matter where they ranked in the overall scoring.

Source: Manila Bulletin (