Like Arnold Palmer, Bryson DeChambeau is tenacious and will not change his hit-it-far strategy

ORLANDO, Fla. – Arnold Palmer might have shot Bryson DeChambeau a few quizzical looks. He might have wondered about DeChambeau’s single-length irons and the wild diet and all that science talk. Surely he would have made fun of the Ben Hogan hat.

But the tournament’s late namesake, which DeChambeau won on Sunday at Palmer’s beloved Bay Hill Club, would no doubt have his thumbs up for the way the reigning US Open champion plays the game.

Palmer would have loved the bravery. He would have loved the muscles. He would have loved the audacity.

DeChambeau set off to victory on Sunday, launching the pandemic’s first major gallery by launching tees into orbit. Then he went and found her. And he did enough putts to hold 47-year-old Lee Westwood at the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his eighth PGA Tour win.

Palmer, the seven-time main master who made Bay Hill his home since falling in love with the place in the 1960s, has been known to go broke once or twice. He loved the power game and mocked those who thought he should rule it. He was the first to admit that a few tournaments were gone because his audacity got the best out of him. But he never apologized.

Now DeChambeau is attempting a par 5 over water – Arnie may have moved those tees back – and continuing to mesmerize the golf world, he has changed his game and body over the past 18 months.

“It’s great to see,” said Westwood, who will be 48 next month and 20 years older than DeChambeau. “I like it. You can see the shape of him. He’s worked hard in the gym and he’s worked on his technique to go far. It’s not easy to hit it as directly as he hits it until he hits it. So people will have advantages – and its length is obviously long. It can overwhelm a golf course. It’s fun to watch. “

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Westwood, who has taken 24 wins on the European Tour and more than 40 professional wins, could only poke fun at the sixth hole, a 555-yard par-five designed for playing around a huge lake.

DeChambeau has been talking for weeks about driving the green, a shot that would require a comfort of about 330 yards. On Saturday, DeChambeau celebrated like he’d won the tournament when he cleared the water. It doesn’t matter that he missed the green about 70 meters to the right. His ball traveled 370 yards.

On Sunday the journey went 377 meters into a bunker. DeCheambeau made a birdie on both days.

When it was Westwood’s turn, the television cameras weren’t set to follow his drive. It was aimed too far to the right, as the hole is supposed to be played. Westwood had a mock party after his ride found the fairway.

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After Bryson DeChambeau celebrates his tee shot, Lee follows Westwood on a long drive of his own and reacts in the same way.

“I’m just having a little fun with it, you know?” Westwood asked. “I think I was about 310 out there – only 70 or 80 behind him, wasn’t it?

DeChambeau’s 1-under-71 was one of only two subpar results in the top 70 on a stormy, cool day. It helped him win a tournament he had hoped for since meeting Palmer here when DeChambeau was still one Was amateur.

At that meeting, Palmer DeChambeau gave some advice: Sign an autograph legibly for people to read.

“This is something I noticed and I’ve done it since then,” he said.

Palmer, who took the first green in the finals of the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills and made birdie for his only win in that grand championship, would have admired DeChambeau’s six-shot win at Winged Foot in September.

However, after this major breakthrough, DeChambeau struggled. He entered the Masters as one of the favorites in November; He was never a factor and turned 34 .. That wasn’t an outlier. He hasn’t really fought since winning the US Open at Winged Foot. Last week he opened at The Concession at the WGC Workday Championship at 77.

But the search continues. He experimented with more drive shafts, optimal spin rates and takeoff angles. Although the goal was to gain weight, he believed he was getting too chubby. So he tried to cut down on the amount of food and eat a little healthier.

Even so, he plans to take the same approach at Augusta National next month. Rock hard, hit it far. Getting closer to the green has its advantages. Getting the ball into the hole from there is the key to success.

In his early days at the Masters, Palmer was told that his low ball flight would be unsuccessful. He stayed stubborn and played his game. He won four green jackets. Palmer didn’t want to back off just because someone said he should.

This week DeChambeau had a chat with Palmer’s grandson and Korn Ferry Tour Pro Sam Saunders. This conversation led DeChambeau to believe that the King would have approved his approach.

“I sometimes get issues with the length I hit it and where I hit it,” DeChambeau said. “But I’d say Mr. Palmer would probably like it.” Sam spoke to me about how he thought Mr. Palmer loved what I was doing. “

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