AUGUSTA, Ga. – Adam Scott, a major champion, said his first tee shot at the Masters is the most nervous he gets all year.
So imagine the anxiety, then, for an amateur who is playing in the most famous golf tournament in the world for the first time.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Bryson DeChambeau said Thursday, a surprising statement from a player who (a) was teeing it up alongside defending champion Jordan Spieth, and (b) putting on display his four months of preparation and a dozen practice rounds at Augusta National.
“I had some adrenaline going," he continued, "but I stepped up there and striped it right down the left-center. Most people, I guess, say they’re nervous. But I’ve been saved by grace, so it doesn’t matter. This is just another golf shot out here. If I can perform to the highest level, great. If not, it’s an opportunity to show my grace and character.”
DeChambeau performed reasonably well, given the stage and the spotlight. He bogeyed the par-5 15th, after hitting a pitch shot into the water, but he salvaged an even-par 72 to sit just six shot back of Spieth, his fellow playing competitor.
“We were walking up 18 and he said, “I don’t know what it is about this place. I just love putting here. I can see the lines.’ I was quite impressed with that,” DeChambeau said. “It was fun to play with him and to see how he performs and reacts after certain putts. It’s a good experience. I’m still an amateur. I’ve still got hopefully a few more years in me, but we’ll see.”
DeChambeau said he was particularly impressed with that way that Spieth controlled his putts in the wind, which gusted up to 30 mph Thursday.
“It’s a complete guess,” he said. “You can’t truly control it. If you have a controlled environment of a constant wind, you can learn how much a putt is affected by a certain wind. But at the same time we’re just artists out there. We have to play like an artist out there, and that’s what I did on the greens today.”
DeChambeau is one of the most-talked-about players at this Masters, with his unorthodox approach intriguing the pros and the spectators. Even though he didn’t have his best stuff, he still drew praise from both of the players in his group.
“A big set of shoulders, a great ball-striker,” Casey said. “I saw him a couple of times doing some calculations in his head. I don’t know exactly his approach to the game, if it is mathematical, but he plays with a wonderful artistic flow. I was very, very impressed.”
Said Spieth: “I felt like Bryson struck the ball much better than I did. My pace was just a little better on the first putts and then a couple of them went in.”