SMU's Dechambeau strips down, shoots 70 at NCAAs

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BRADENTON, Fla. – Bryson Dechambeau had a relatively clean scorecard Friday at Concession. 

He kept his shirt even more pristine. 

When his ball tumbled into the hazard left of the 13th fairway, the SMU junior had a decision to make: Splash out of the mud and stain his SMU polo … or splash out of the mud with his shirt off.

He chose the latter option, losing his shoes and shirt but not his shorts for that second shot. 

“I didn’t think that was appropriate,” he said, but the strip down still drew a few chuckles from his playing competitors.

“They were like, ‘Dude, nice tan,’” he said. “Complete whiteness. It was good to get a little sun.”

Dechambeau ended up making par on the tricky par 5, after an all-world save from left of the green. It added up to a 2-under 70 that was one of the best scores among the early starters here at the NCAA Championship. 

Dechambeau, ranked inside the top 30 in Golfstat’s rankings, is quite a character. 

He dons a Ben Hogan-style cap. His irons are the same length (37 ½ inches), 3-iron through low wedge. And he’s majoring in physics, which is why he spent time Friday explaining why his irons are so rusty, why his flat stick is torque-balanced and why Vector Putting has led to such marked improvement on the greens.

Most interesting is his irons.

“It’s easier to retain the same posture,” he said of keeping them the same length. “Any given shot my body is doing the same thing and swinging the same way. Keeping everything constant is very useful under pressure.”

So is the fact that his clubs are stamped by their lofts, not a number, such as a 7. That little wrinkle comes in handy in match play, when an opponent might try and sneak a peek at what club is missing from his bag on a par 3. 

Dechambeau has been on a tear this spring, finishing in the top-5 in his last three starts, including the American Championship and NCAA regionals.  

Many have tabbed the Mustangs, who opened with an 8-over 296 here, as a potential sleeper pick this week, after they shared top honors at the Noblesville regional.

It helps, too, that teams such as SMU have been out of school for a few weeks heading into nationals. Dechambeau wrapped up his classes on May 12, and he’s been grinding on the putting green ever since.

“The schools that are still finishing up finals, they’ve got two things on their mind,” he said. “And we have only one thing on our mind.”