The Open: Bryson DeChambeau maintains his convincing advantage on the rollercoaster ride
The pursuit of a ride as straight as an arrow can be filled with agony and despair, however Bryson DeChambeau remains a compelling watch as it knots during the process. With an intimidating power to strip any golf course, the American covered every corner st andrews while moving up the rankings early Saturday afternoon The openingfinally stumbled in an exciting five under par round of 67 to sit six under par.
There was alarming concern over DeChambeau’s hard-to-believe snap at 18, which threatened the crowd lining up the first hole 125 yards down left. But this intriguing contradiction of a player sprinting to the green and back to his ball, recalculating his route before adding finesse just lacking and grinding a wedge to within a yard for a tap-in birdie.
DeChambeau remains a divisive figure in the game, particularly with his recent move to LIV Golf, but he continues to emphasize the sport’s bizarre and wacky nature. There is a strong temptation to experience that jarring sound that reverberates around the court after you find the center of the racquet. And it came on the 14th, chasing the ball 338 yards down the hardened, sun-tanned fairways.
But not only is DeChambeau battling an impressive field, Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland are also setting searing pace in the third round the 150th Open Championship. He continues to resist the pressure of the barking mob surrounding him at every tee to pull out his driver. “We’re playing a major here, folks,” an embarrassed DeChambeau muttered with an incredulous grin at the light-hearted boos on 16 after his long iron pick.
“Look, I’m trying to win a major, so I try to play where I have the best opportunity to birdie,” DeChambeau noted. “But it’s fun. I know I’ll be booed.
“I have absolutely no problem with it. If anything, it’s a good joke.”
The drama at the start of each hole includes DeChambeau also thriving as a villain, controlling his surroundings, including a sharp whistle to maneuver a marshal out of the way of a possible stray bullet on 15. Part of the intrigue is the failure as well as when the 28-year-old bludgeons the ball straight into the middle.
As Plan A unravels, there is intense focus and deep discussion of the imaginative strategy to escape the traps found when his ball leaves him, adding another layer of intrigue to the DeChambeau experience.
But there’s also art to complement his brutal, scientific approach, as documented when he hit a skinny pitching wedge “off the toe” to escape the straight at 17th with par. It was a shot to reveal the imaginative side deep inside him, which was formed during his teenage years at Belmont Country Club in Fresno, California.
“I was trying to have some loft but still jump into the bank,” DeChambeau recalled. “Hopefully you hit it in a good spot where it doesn’t hit dead and doesn’t hit a hot spot either. Hit perfectly. Beautifully jumped up and rolled over.”
DeChambeau’s admirable work ethic was on full display at St Andrews this week; never hard to find, there were long sessions on the range and putting greens from dusk to dawn, with various toys and gadgets scattered around to paint a picture of his game. Those grueling days show a desire to eliminate an annoying inconsistency in his game, compounded by a slick eagle on the nine and that lethargic four-putt double bogey from 100ft on the 16, showing the fragility of his game alongside his attritioning brawn .
But as DeChambeau nears full fitness, “probably 97 to 98 percent right now” after a nasty hand injury forced him out of the PGA Championship earlier this year, he showed his commitment to his philosophy and revealed that speed training will resume next month is recorded.
A return of the tour de force that threatened to rock the game in 2018 will add additional appeal to next year’s disruptive LIV golf and majors. “That  was by far the best golf I’ve ever played,” he recalls. “I feel like I’m coming back to this position with this new speed, which is great.”
So while the big fight is still tantalizingly close, fans will be gleefully enjoying this flawed genius determined to be different.