Bryson DeChambeau’s win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was a joy to behold for so many reasons. Alex Perry wraps up the week’s talking points
Hello. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Slam. It was Arnold Palmer Invitational week – and just as we were all starting to worry about having no one to replace Tiger Woods as golf’s No 1 draw – along comes a man called Bryson DeChambeau to take hold of the torch.
The US Open champion spent the week leading up to the tournament telling us he was going to attempt to drive the lake that separates the tee from the green on the 565-yard par-5 6th.
It’s a 350-yard carry to reach the green and DeChambeau had a couple of goes in the practice days – but the wind spoiled everyone’s fun…
On Thursday and Friday he played the 6th conservatively, with drives of 309 and 326 yards before going on to make birdie and par respectively, but then on Friday he was happy with the conditions.
Urged on by the gallery that had gathered to watch their new hero, Bryson pivoted 45-degrees and let loose with this 370-yard barnstormer…
On Sunday he needed a bit more persuading, but after a lengthy discussion with caddie Tim Tucker he decided to go for it again. And this time he went even closer to the green…
They used to call wrestling superstar The Rock “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment”. I think it’s safe to say that title has been handed over.
It’s exactly why we watch this sport. DeChambeau is pure, unapologetic box office. “Bryson” was trending on Twitter a lot this weekend. Outside of majors, that’s very rare for golf.
Of course the Roll the Ball Back Brigade were out in force, as they often are when DeChambeau is playing. Let’s use the 6th as a mini case study, though.
DeChambeau’s playing partner on Saturday, Corey Conners, hit his drive on the 6th 298 yards, leaving 226 into the green. On Sunday, playing partner Lee Westwood hit his drive 305 to leave 255. Both made the same score as Bomber Bryson, who inexplicably missed the green on both occasions.
Are you not entertained? How boring would golf be if everyone played each hole in exactly the same way?
For all his big hitting, DeChambeau couldn’t pull away from Westwood – who is 20 years his senior, remember – and ended up needing a knee-knocking five-foot par putt to win.
Golf is just fine. Shall we just start celebrating the athleticism on display in our sport, rather than constant arguing about dialling back equipment?
Just because the game isn’t played the way it used to be, doesn’t make it a bad thing.
- RELATED: What’s in DeChambeau’s winning bag?
Lee and easy
A great stat about Westwood before the final round…
DeChambeau overtook Westwood pretty quickly on Sunday, but the Englishman was always within one of his rival.
Is it too soon to start getting misty eyed about our Lee slipping finally into a green jacket in a few weeks?
Faldo ‘motivates’ Fowler
In a December edition of the Slam I wrote about the curious case of Rickie Fowler. And there really doesn’t look to be any sign of life in the popular Californian’s game.
And the talking point in the build up was the possibility of Fowler – who started the week as World No 65 – missing his first Masters since the year before his 2011 debut, a possibility he described as “very frustrating”.
Nick Faldo couldn’t resist:
The six-time major champion later issued an apology.
“Five years ago he was voted by the players as the most overrated player on Tour,” Faldo explained. “It motivated him to go and win the Players literally the next week. So a couple of years later when things had gone quiet, I said to Rickie, ‘Hey, I need to give you a bit of needle, mate, to motivate you.’ And he said to me, ‘Bring it on.’
“OK, it’s years later, so hopefully he still remembers that.”
It didn’t work. Fowler finished dead last at Bay Hill after weekend rounds of 76 and 77 saw him end the week 11-over-par.
Jordan Spieth, who has had a slump of his own in the last couple of years before a recent resurgence, said of his friend: “It’s almost impossible to struggle in silence and get your work done in the dark.”
Imagine being told even a year ago that these two would have started this season outside the world’s top 60, let alone 50.
And as if it couldn’t get worse for Fowler, this happened in the second round…
From the Horschel’s mouth
Somehow, it wasn’t even the most awkward exchange of the week…
And finally from the API, a shout out to Robert Gamez for making us hackers feel a million times better about our own games.
Gamez – who hit one of the most iconic shots ever seen at Bay Hill en route to victory in 1990 – carded a second-round 92 – not a typo – that included five pars, seven bogeys, six double bogeys, and a triple bogey.
Up the road in Ocala, Austin Ernst was smashing the rest of the LPGA field at the Drive On Championship.
It’s just the third time in 30 years that the first three winners of an LPGA season were American – if you like that sort of thing.
- RELATED: What’s in Austin Ernst’s bag?
A round of applause for Phil Mickelson for this achievement:
For context, new World No 6 DeChambeau wasn’t born when Mickelson first entered the top 100 in 1993.
Right, that’s enough Slam for another week. You can follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing, and don’t forget to…