DeChambeau figuring it out after trying start to career

By Ryan LavnerMarch 10, 2017, 10:05 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – There’s a learning curve for any PGA Tour rookie. New cities. New courses. New lifestyle.

But Bryson DeChambeau is not like any rookie. He’s not like any other professional golfer, really.

No one else is asked at every tournament stop to explain the physics behind his single-length set of irons. (Google it.)

Or to answer if he’s always been an “odd bird.” (Yep.)

Or to name the geekiest thing he’s ever done on the course (“The laminar flow and the air density is moving a little downward,” he once told a bewildered caddie), to discuss his college GPA (got some Cs!) and to ponder whether his peers think he’s a weirdo (take a guess).  

No one else has been ripped by a fellow player on Twitter for withdrawing from a tournament; roasted for complaining about the USGA seemingly picking on him; and mocked for “changing the game” one missed cut at a time.

It’s not even spring, and the polarizing DeChambeau has already endured a trying rookie year on Tour.

“It’s matured me, for sure,” he said Friday after rounds of 67-70 lifted him into the top 10 at the Valspar Championship.

“Definitely messed up a couple of things. But I’m 23. I’m going to make mistakes, and everybody is going to view me as the villain. I wasn’t trying to do anything to ruffle any feathers, but right now, I’m learning what to say, how to say things, and getting better at doing it.”

To his credit, DeChambeau usually stands up and answers the same questions every week. It has to get old, but he grins and bears it all. It’s the cost of trying to revolutionize golf.

Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos

He’s the first to admit that there have been a few missteps along the way. There was the scheduling error, flying across the country from Demo Day to Torrey Pines. Then there was the PR mess, when he said that the USGA was “not a good organization” after they ruled one of his sidesaddle putters was nonconforming. (It likely won’t be his last run-in with the governing bodies). 

Rookie mistakes, but he doesn’t have the benefit of anonymity – he’s one of only two newcomers with a TV commercial.

“There’s a lot of people looking down on me,” he said.

And poor golf has made him an easy target. He has made only three of 10 cuts, with no finish inside the top 30. His normally reliable ball-striking has failed him. His putting has been abysmal. Of course, in typical Bryson fashion, it hasn’t dented his confidence.

“I know I can play with the best of them,” he said. “I know I can be one of the best in the world at one point in time, and I’m looking forward to striving for that.”

For the first time all year, he is moving in the right direction.

It started Wednesday, when his father, Jon, received a kidney after years of waiting. Both of his kidneys failed in 2014. His health was rapidly declining. “It was close,” DeChambeau said.

Bryson called the donor, Ron Bankofier, before the surgery and thanked him for saving his father’s life. Then he called his dad and, as usual, told him to “just keep swimming” – an inside joke in the family, from the movie, “Finding Nemo.”

Lately, Jon DeChambeau has turned that phrase around on his son, as the disappointing results stacked up.

And so Bryson kept working, kept hitting balls, kept searching for a solution. He said his ball-striking is now as sharp as it was in college – when he won the NCAAs and U.S. Amateur in the same summer – and maybe even better. “It’s going to get to a point where it’s just automatic,” he said.

To address his putting, he spent a recent weekend in Orlando working on a Quintec software program that measures the launch of a putt. Sik Golf built him a 44-inch putter that he holds against his left forearm – the style popularized by Matt Kuchar – and he proved a quick learner.

“I was a machine on that system,” he said, “just one after the next.” 

Ranked 211th in strokes gained-putting this season (better than only two players on Tour), this week he is currently ranked 19th through two rounds.

“I think he’s finally on to something,” said his new caddie Micah Fugitt, who is on the bag after spending more than five years with Billy Horschel.

But as it usually goes with DeChambeau, questions arose about his new method. Rule 14-1b allows a player to hold the club anywhere below the elbow joint, but at certain angles on television it appeared that it might be above the elbow.

When asked about it Friday, DeChambeau shrugged. “People are just going to try and knock me down everywhere.”

And you checked with the rules officials?, he was asked.

“Yeah, I’m not dumb!” he said with a laugh. “Come on, guys!”

But his new putting stroke underscores two points: (1) He’s willing to push the limits to maximize his performance, and (2) he’s always going to be a target for questioning, because he’s different.

And that’s OK with Bryson. 

Six months into his Tour career, he is growing more comfortable in the spotlight, increasingly aware that everything he does – everything he tries, everything he says – will be subject to intense scrutiny. 

He’s a rookie in status only.

“It’s definitely different,” he said. “For doing kind of some weird stuff, a lot of guys were looking at me weird. I didn’t really mean for that to happen at all.

“But I’ve got great support. Today I had some guys going, ‘Come on, Bryson!’ So it was great to hear that again. To get that feeling back in the repertoire is nice.”

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.