Matthew Fitzpatrick accused Bryson DeChambeau of 'making a mockery of the game', and the US Open champion replied in the only way he knows how
While Bryson DeChambeau’s return to action after winning his maiden major championship was grabbing headlines in Las Vegas, Matthew Fitzpatrick was 5,000 miles away quietly going about what he does best – challenging for European Tour titles.
The newly-crowned US Open champion was playing in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open when he did something no other golfer has done before. He drove the green on the 382-yard par-4 7th at TPC Summerlin.
And then he did it again for good measure.
Naturally, players around the globe were being asked about it. Across the pond at Wentworth, Fitzpatrick had just walked off the 18th green having carded a round-of-the-day 65 to lead the BMW PGA Championship at the halfway stage when DeChambeau’s antics came up.
Fitzpatrick, for the record, averaged just shy of 310 yards off the tee on the PGA Tour last season, though that was only enough for 68th in the driving distance stats.
“I’m biased because I’m not quite the longest,” the five-time European Tour champion replied. “But in the US Open at Winged Foot – and fair play to Bryson – he won and shot 6-under. But the fairways were tight as hell.
“I drove it brilliantly but I was miles behind. He’s in the rough and miles up and he’s hitting wedges from everywhere. It just makes a bit of a mockery of the game.”
Referring to DeChambeau’s first round in Las Vegas, the World No 20 added: “I looked at Shot Tracker yesterday, to see some of the places Bryson hit it. He was cutting corners. And when he’s on, there’s no point. It doesn’t matter if I play my best. He’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee, and the only thing where I can compete with him is putting. Which is just ridiculous.
“But we’re going to see people going harder and harder at it. Look at the college kids coming out now – Matt Wolff, Viktor Hovland. They just smash it, basically. It seems to me the game is smash it and get after it and play the next one from wherever it is.
“It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way. I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a bio-mechanist. I could gain 40 yards. That’s actually a fact. I could put another two inches on my driver. But the skill is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill. He’s just taking the skill out of it in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree.
“It’s just daft.”
Fitzpatrick’s comments didn’t take too long to get back across the Atlantic to DeChambeau, who took it in the only way he knows how.
“I appreciate that comment,” he said. “It’s a compliment to me. Honestly.
“A year ago, I wasn’t hitting it anywhere near as far as I am today. It took a lot of work, a lot of hours to work through the night to figure out a lot of this stuff.
“I would say it actually takes more skill to do what I’m doing. My fairway percentages are a little bit down [but] I still believe I’m hitting it straighter than what I was last year with the distances that I was hitting back then.
“So I actually appreciate those comments. I think he’s looking out for certain set of players, and I appreciate that.
“If anything, it’s more difficult to hit more fairways the way I’m doing it. It’s more built for players like Matthew Fitzpatrick and his distances and players like that.
“You know, I would love to have a conversation with him about it and say, ‘Hey man, I would love to help out. Why couldn’t you do it, too?’ I don’t think it takes less skill.”
Following the US Open, DeChambeau revealed he would be testing a 48-inch driver, which he now plans to debut at Augusta – and love him or loathe him, we’re all desperate to see how that pans out for him.
In the meantime, Rory McIlroy has spent his downtime since the US Open working on gaining a few extra yards with the driver.
Dustin Johnson’s coach, Claude Harmon III, also posted a video of the FedEx Cup champion trying something similar, and DeChambeau is excited that he’s having this effect on players he’s looked up to for so long.
“They’re seeing that distinct advantage,” he said. “And I feel like it’s great for the game of golf.”
Is Matthew Fitzpatrick right? Or should we applaud Bryson DeChambeau for his achievements? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.
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