It’s no secret that over the course of the last year, Bryson DeChambeau has changed the sport of golf. The 27-year-old and 2020 U.S. Open Champion has become known for his impressive distance off the tee and the unique way that he views the game.
But while a higher swing speed and longer drives has been beneficial for DeChambeau, it hasn’t been the case for everyone. Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy candidly admitted earlier this week that some of his recent struggles have been the result of trying to follow a similar pursuit for more distance.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t anything to do with what Bryson did at the U.S. Open,” said McIlroy, after rounds of 79 and 75 this weekend. “I think a lot of people saw that and were like, whoa, if this is the way they’re going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps. It really helps.”
DeChambeau was asked about his competitor’s comments after finding himself in contention at The Players headed into Sunday. He remained gracious and spoke about how his focus always remains on his own game, rather than its ripple effects.
“I appreciate it, first off,” DeChambeau said, via Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel. “I wasn’t trying to influence anybody. I was just trying to play my own game and hit it as far as I possibly could. And I knew there was going to be an effect.”
“I knew that there would be some people that would try and some people it would potentially not work for them and some people it may help them. I do appreciate Rory’s comments, it’s kind of a sentiment almost and something that keeps me going every day.”
Asked Rory this on Friday night, and the 20-second deliberation is what makes him such a compelling athlete to cover. He decided to answer honestly, knowing what he was about to say would become a headline:
— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) March 13, 2021
Interestingly enough, DeChambeau dialed back his big swings this weekend in order to adapt to the course at TPC Sawgrass. He still found himself just two strokes back headed into the final round on Sunday.
Through 14 holes, DeChambeau hasn’t made much noise, but remains right in the mix with just a few holes to play. Justin Thomas leads the way at 13-under par.
Tune-in to NBC to watch the conclusion of the final round of The Players Championship.