In mid-September, Bryson DeChambeau made mincemeat out of one of the most historic, and historically-challenging, golf courses in America while shooting a breezy 6-under total to win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Since then, the bulky bomber has flaunted increased driving power on social media and suggested he will try and attack Augusta National from angles it's never seen before.
However, unlike 20 years ago when Tiger Woods blitzed the country's most revered golf course and Augusta's membership decided to "Tiger-proof" the course by lengthening the layout, there's no way to defend it from DeChambeau's impending assault according to ESPN golf analysts Andy North and Curtis Strange.
"There's not a lot they can do physically with the golf course," North said during a conference call with reporters. "Could they come up with a golf ball that they require players to play that goes ten percent shorter or 50 percent shorter? There's been a lot of rumblings that that's becoming closer to actually happening. We'll have to see.
"Augusta National, how many more holes can they move it back 30, 40 and 50 yards? I don't see that happening."
After being postponed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Masters will be contested next week from Nov. 12-15 with ESPN broadcasting the first two rounds and CBS broadcasting the weekend rounds. DeChambeau is the betting favorite to win his first green jacket and the primary reason is the power he developed during the pandemic shutdown.
DeChambeau gained 20 pounds of muscle between March and June and has added nearly 20 yards of distance on his average drives (322.1 average last season, 344.4 this season). Behind the scenes, he's also been practicing with a 48-inch driver, the longest one players can legally carry, and bragged about carrying practice drives 400 yards.
In front of the microphone, he's been open with his excitement to bring his new power to challenge Augusta.
“I'm looking forward to trying to put it (in play at Augusta National) and see what that can do for the golf course and what opportunities it will present for me,” DeChambeau said via the Augusta Chronicle. "If you're in it past 320 (yards off the tee), I feel like there are a lot of opportunities to have a wider open fairway for me. You look at No.13. That's the most exciting hole for me. If it's not into the wind, I feel like there is a tremendous advantage to be gained. Look at No. 15 even. That's going to be a tremendous advantage, 17, even 18. If I'm able to clear those bunkers (on the left side of the landing area) on the last, that would be pretty cool.”
Usually, this kind of foreboding statement would fire warning flares at Augusta. All hands on deck to protect the crown jewel! But with such a short turnaround following DeChambeau's increased length and tactics reveal, there's simply nothing they can do heading into next week's tournament.
"They play the tips. They play the hardest hole locations they can," Strange said. "They really can't change it at all other than in the middle of the year, but no, it will play the same."
With Augusta's defenses down, expect DeChambeau to come out driver blazing. He discussed hitting it as far as he can and seeing where his ball winds up, which, at a course with no penal rough like Augusta, shouldn't be dangerous. It was the same strategy he employed at Winged Foot, where the rough is much longer, and it worked out swimmingly. But if his grip-it-and-rip-it approach succeeds at Augusta the same way it did at Winged Foot, expect Bryson-proofing to become a bigger focus for Augusta members moving forward.