The 2021 British Open has only just gotten underway, yet Bryson DeChambeau’s tournament is already off to quite the rough start.
DeChambeau came into the Open Championship with a good deal of baggage. He led the U.S. Open at one point on Sunday before collapsing on the back nine. Just weeks later, he announced a split from longtime caddie Tim Tucker. All that came on top of a budding rivalry with Brooks Koepka that has seemingly been good for the sport but has also appeared to add some stressors.
Golf can be a very taxing sport from a mental standpoint. The psychological rigors might be starting to wear on DeChambeau a bit as he blasted his Cobra sponsors Thursday for the quality of their new driver.
Bryson DeChambeau drove the ball woefully in the first round of the British Open
It can be hard for golfers to score when they struggle to get off the tee, especially at the British Open.
The Open Championship is renowned for having thin and dry fairways. Players take on a great deal of risk if they succumb to inaccuracy off the tee, with fescue often coming into play should they miss the fairway.
DeChambeau constantly found himself in trouble spots in Thursday’s first round. He hit less than 30% of all fairways, per the Open Championship website, well below the field average of 56.09%.
Length is typically one of the strong suits for the “Big Golfer.” However, the British Open prioritizes driving accuracy over prodigious power. DeChambeau’s inaccuracy led to poor scoring in Round 1.
The 2020 U.S. Open champion carded four birdies, but he also made five bogeys and sputtered to a score of 71, putting him in a tie for 73rd place. It could be an uphill climb for DeChambeau if he hopes to get into contention, more so if the driver issues persist.
DeChambeau and a Cobra rep traded public salvos over the new driver
DeChambeau had quite a bit to say after his round. The 27-year-old ranted about the new Cobra Radspeed driver and said it isn’t a good fit for him.
“If I can hit it down the middle of the fairway, that’s great, but with the driver right now, the driver sucks,” DeChambeau said per David Dusek of USA TODAY. It’s not a good face for me, and we’re still trying to figure out how to make it good on the mis-hits. I’m living on the razor’s edge, like I’ve told people for a long time.”
The comments irked Cobra representative Ben Schomin, who went on the record to blast DeChambeau publicly for being overly demanding.
“Everybody is bending over backwards. We’ve got multiple guys in R&D who are CAD’ing (computer-aided design) this and CAD-ing that, trying to get this and that into the pipeline faster. (Bryson) knows it,” Schomin said via Dusek. “It’s just really, really painful when he says something that stupid.”
Schomin also alluded to DeChambeau being impossible to please.
“He has never really been happy, ever. Like, it’s very rare where he’s happy,” Schomin said via Dusek. “Now he’s in a place where he’s swinging a 5-degree driver with 200 mph of ball speed. Everybody is looking for a magic bullet. Well, the magic bullet becomes harder and harder to find the faster you swing and the lower your loft gets.”
It remains to be seen what the fallout might be between DeChambeau and Cobra. He has been partnered with the company since 2016. Regardless, this hardly feels like an ideal scenario for DeChambeau, who will have to battle it out on Friday to make the cut.
How will DeChambeau respond?
DeChambeau hasn’t always coped well in the face of adversity.
The former SMU product could not stop the bleeding on the back nine during the final round of last month’s U.S. Open. He followed a bogey on No. 11 with another bogey on No. 12 before imploding with a triple on the 13th hole, effectively ending his chances of winning.
This is a different kind of adversity, but it is still directly linked to his inability to score in Round 1. Can DeChambeau block out the noise and focus on the course, or will he continue to be distracted by his qualms with the equipment?
There appears to be plenty of drama in store for Round 2 of the British Open.
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com unless otherwise noted.