Cut Line: When it comes to Bryson, don't hate the player, hate the (Rules of the) Game
In this week's edition we celebrate, that's right, Bryson DeChambeau's quest for distance and a PGA touring schedule that crosses the line between security and Las Vegas.
Bigger, faster, stronger. He wasn't 10 pounds heavier and he didn't bring that double-secret, 48-inch shaft driver into play, yet Bryson DeChambeau dismantled TPC Summerlin on Thursday with the finesse of a lumberjack.
A few notable things from Big Bryson's first start since he did what no one at Winged Foot thought he was doing: DeChambeau completed 10 300m rides on Thursday and was particularly fatally the first player on the seventh hole where he became in the ShotLink era who drove the green (361 yards).
As impressive as that is, it's worth noting that none of these monster drives had golf ball speeds of 200 mph or better, which is DeChambeau's current benchmark for distance. Perhaps, as he hinted at, he's saving those numbers for next month's Masters if he's planning to break out that 48-inch shaft.
"I don't want to pucker any feathers," he said when asked how far the new experiment could go. If social media is any clue, it might be late on that front.
Las Vegas fortnight. Tony Finau was the 14th Tour player to test positive for COVID-19 this week and the first since the US Open last month. This was a timely reminder that while golf avoided outbreaks like the NFL and Major League Baseball, risks still exist.
Tony Finau from Shriners after positive COVID-19 test
The tour has tried to mitigate these risks, among other things, by creating a version of a bubble. In July, the racetrack held consecutive events at Muirfield Village, Ohio. This week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is the first of two stops in Sin City.
The tour deserves credit for not only limiting the traveling circus as much as possible, but also trying to get the CJ Cup (Shadow Creek) and Zozo Championship (Sherwood, outside of Los Angeles) from Asia to the US next week embarrassed.
With all the moving parts and the potential for trouble, it is remarkable to keep the circuit's “Asian” momentum going during a pandemic.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
The electricity problem. Full disclosure, we're all involved in the current DeChambeau project, but we understand those who flinch when he talks about ever-increasing swing speeds and his desire to revolutionize the game. The battle, however, is when these critics direct their frustrations at Bryson, rather than those who make the rules.
Anything DeChambeau has done to increase his swing speed is legal under current golf rules, including the 48-inch shaft that sits in his closet until the Masters.
"It just makes the game a little mockery," said Matthew Fitzpatrick of DeChambeau's game at the US Open.
Matthew Fitzpatrick on Distance Gains: "Mocking the Game"
While Fitzpatrick's frustration is understandable, it's also out of place. DeChambeau crosses every limit within the rules. You may not like the result, but you have to respect the effort.
Returning to rule-making and the need for change, Fitzpatrick told reporters at this week's BMW PGA Championship, "It's not an ability to hit the ball far."
Xander Schauffele hit the right note on Winged Foot when asked if DeChambeau was revolutionizing the game: "Maybe he's just revealing our game," he said.
Tweet of the week:
Lefty responded to a tweet about unexploded bombs found at Royal Troon. Real bombs. Real danger. Relatively new to social media, Lefty is hands down a cleaver. So spare him. His duel with Henrik Stenson at the 16 Open Championship was also a classic.
Oh rickie. At this point last year, Rickie Fowler was in the top 20 in the world and fresh from one of his most consistent touring seasons. Since then, he has contested 16 events with only two top 10 finishes and fell outside the top 40 in the world for the first time since 2014.
Many have pointed out his work with swing coach John Tillery and his transition to a new swing, but the more pressing concern was Fowler's putting, and this week in Las Vegas he benched his Newport 2 Scotty Cameron for the first time in five years a prototype Cameron.
"Putting is something that has always been a strong part, something I always leaned on when I needed to, something that lets me down," said Fowler, who finished 60th in the last season Strokes won proved: putting.
There were some signs of life early with a 67 opening (3.76 in strokes won: putting), but he got tangled up with water hazards on consecutive holes (# 16 and 17) on day 2 for a 74 to miss the cut.
For one of the game's most consistent players over the past decade, the quest continues.
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