DeChambeau's dilemma -- and opportunity

Leads BMW Championship at halfway mark

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

OWINGS MILLS, MD. Yes — he’s back. After a slight respite the golfer that elicits respect and loathing in equal measure has returned with a vengeance. 

After 16 holes during the second round of the BMW Championship, the long hitting DeChambeau stood twelve-under-par at the PGA TOUR’S second leg of this year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. No misprint. Breaking 60 was within range and Bryson gave it his best with a final birdie bid missed from six feet at the 18th sliding just wide left. 

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

He had to settle — that’s right settle – for a round with no blemishes and featuring two eagles and eight birdies. Some professionals don’t have that number of birdies and eagles over 72 holes. 

The 27-year-old’s two round total of 128 provides a one-shot edge over Patrick Cantlay and world number-one-ranked Jon Rahm who has one hole to finish courtesy of a rain-delayed second round. The softened Caves Valley has proven to be an easy mark as the top 70 players vie for 30 spots for next week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

The last time most people cared to check the 6th ranked player in the world was mouthing the word “sucks” in terms of his Cobra driver during The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. Nothing like being paid big-time bucks to endorse a product and then throw the company paying you under the bus. That boorish behavior showcased a petulant boy in a man’s body simply providing more fodder for those who equate DeChambeau with the kid who touts in elementary school he’s the smartest one around. That routine gets old — fast. 

Years ago, golf star Ken Venturi was hitting golf balls with his father watching him. The practice session featured Venturi flushing each shot and turning to his Dad arrogantly proclaiming– “not bad huh?” His father was not impressed and sternly admonished his son with the following words — “Ken, when you’re good you don’t have to tell them — they’ll tell you.” This is the memo that never crossed DeChambeau’s desk.

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

Every tour player has an ego — you don’t get that far without a rock-solid belief in your ability but coming off in a smug manner can be off putting to your fellow competitors and the general public. 

Over the last few months, the silly ongoing back-and-forth juvenile tussle with Brooks Koepka continued because of how DeChambeau handled himself. Enraging fans during golf events looking for an Andy Warhol moment was just dumb. The smart call would have been to laugh about it and show some humor ultimately defusing the tension. The more you stroke the flame — the more it continues to burn hotter and hotter. Bryson doesn’t believe in fighting fire with water — just pour more gasoline on such matters.

DeChambeau's dilemma - and opportunity

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

There’s an old adage individuals have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you talk. You don’t learn from talking — you do from listening. Bryson has plenty to offer and in his ascending career he has shown much promise. Demolishing Winged Foot at the 2020 U.S. Open was a clinic of epic proportions. But the golf side is only one part of the overall picture.

The analytics he’s carried out in charting his golf performance can get a bit much but the desire to thoroughly examine all dimensions of the game is what one needs to do in order to attain the throne as the best golfer on the planet.  Just sound less professorial in doing so.

It might behoove DeChambeau to be less demonstrative and follow the behavior of Tiger who was quick to say he’s working on his game and getting close to really performing at an even higher level. The Woods script was about leaving all of us watching to want more from him — not just teasing morsels. Very smart indeed. With Bryson you often get the desire to run and stick cotton swabs in your ears as he drones on and on about the percentage of water vapor that impacted his golf shots.

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

So, what can the talented golfer do? 

Be a bit more human for starters.

DeChambeau was in contention during the final nine holes at this year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines but self-imploded over the final nine holes. Instead of owning up to his poor play DeChambeau attempted to spin the story that bad luck befell him. Rubbish. Bryson does not believe humility of a human kind exists — at least not for him. When an elite sportsman cannot win, demonstrating some semblance of taking ownership of your game is in order.

Being standoffish with the media also does not work. Starting with the WGC event in Memphis, DeChambeau has simply ignored the media with only limited interactions. That game plan has continued — following his round of 60. The saying of never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton applies. Bryson, as smart as he believes he is, had best realize getting the media on your side has been done smartly by many top golfers over the years. 

DeChambeau needs to follow a Jack Nicklaus game plan. When the Golden Bear was taking down Arnold Palmer as golf’s new number one, he incurred the wrath of The King’s Army. Nicklaus handled it perfectly as he simply put on his “blinders” and played golf. DeChambeau should follow suit and block out those in the gallery who continue to bait him with “Brooksie” chants and any other derogatory comments. 

DeChambeau's dilemma - and opportunity

DeChambeau’s dilemma – and opportunity

Nicklaus won fans over by not fighting fire with fire — he simply played the best golf and his scores were his ultimate calling card. Nicklaus also was adept in being available to media — sitting down and answering questions — not all of which were stated well — but being available when called upon no matter how low or high the score was that round.

Bryson is still a young man and his capacity to study his golf swing is laudatory. He has an opportunity to attain an upside that can easily come his way. Bryson won Jack’s tournament in 2018 and the Golden Bear has said a number of times he’s available to assist golfers should they call.

I urge Bryson to call Jack. Listen to a man who faced many of the same issues DeChambeau is dealing with now. 

Just have pen and pad handy. The life lessons could prove invaluable in focusing on his play rather than the playpen he occupies now.

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