John Daly came out of nowhere in 1991 to win the PGA Championship, dazzling galleries with massive drives. That stands in contrast to Bryson DeChambeau, who was already an established winner on the PGA Tour before turning himself into the tee box’s new mad bomber.
DeChambeau has pursed distance off the tee with such fervor that he says he has nearly blacked out while pushing the limit on driving distance.
Bryson DeChambeau didn’t come out of nowhere
It was barely a quarter of a century ago that John Daly broke the 300-yard barrier in average driving distance in a season. Nowadays, the PGA Tour as a whole averages almost 300 yards off the tees.
The most intriguing of all golfers in that respect in the past two years has been Bryson DeChambeau, who has added to an already impressive arsenal on the course.
DeChambeau had already won six times on the PGA Tour since July 2017 by the time he won the 2020 U.S. Open. Even before that, DeChambeau became the fifth golfer to win both the NCAA Division I championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year. The U.S. Open triumph put him in a class with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as having won that career triple crown.
However, DeChambeau’s 2017 season set the baseline for then-and-now comparisons. Aside from winning the John Deere Classic that year for professional win No. 1, DeChambeau placed 45th in driving distance (299.4 yards) and 124th in accuracy. Three seasons later, he was No. 1 in distance at 322.1 yards but 140th in accuracy. In essence, he’s still likely to hit into the rough three out of seven times – but he gets to hit his approach from 20 yards closer to the green.
Bryson DeChambeau changed up his game
As has been well documented, Bryson DeChambeau made the decision to pack on pounds of muscle to change his game. The transformation began with his rehabilitation following a back injury, a regimen that focused on rebuilding muscle tissue. Rather quickly, that replaced his reputation for slow play as the narrative about DeChambeau.
DeChambeau had already added about 20 pounds before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the golf season on hiatus, and he packed on another 20 by the time the season resumed. He won the Rocket Mortgage Classic on the July 4 weekend last summer and came back in mid-September to win the U.S. Open by six strokes. In between, he briefly held a piece of the lead at the PGA Championship.
Going to school with the game’s longest driver
Aside from adding muscle to improve his distance off the tee, Bryson DeChambeau consulted with the ultimate expert, World Long Drive champion Kyle Berkshire.
“A lot of it has to do with pushing the limits of your body and going for long hours of swinging your golf club with a golf ball and trying to help up the ball speed,” DeChambeau said.
DeChambeau said Berkshire spoke about pushing his body to the point of blacking out.
“There was times where I was seeing a tunnel and I had to stop,” DeChambeau said. “I mean, you just have to stop. That’s about when you stop. There’s a lot to it.”