Validation for DeChambeau: Did it my way

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2017, 4:20 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – Watching at home in Dallas, Josh Gregory couldn’t help but smile as his former recruit stole the John Deere Classic with a back-nine 30 on Sunday.

Afterward, he sent Bryson DeChambeau a text: “It’s no longer a dream.”

A game-changing PGA Tour title - and with it, a trip to The Open - was what they’d always talked about ever since they first met, in the summer of 2011. After guiding Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA titles, Gregory left to become the head coach at his alma mater, SMU. That summer, he called an intriguing high school prospect out of Fresno, Calif., offered him a scholarship, sight unseen, and vowed not to change him. DeChambeau eventually signed with upstart SMU over other powerhouse programs, and the reason he gave Gregory was simple: “You were the only coach that was going to let me be me.”

Indeed, other coaches were convinced that DeChambeau would flame out, that his theories were wacky, that he was too much of an iconoclast for the team-first ethos of college golf. At the airport after signing DeChambeau, Gregory was told by one of his peers: “Good luck dealing with that kid.”

Three years later, using single-length irons and a putter that looked like a chalkboard eraser, DeChambeau won the NCAA title.

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“I knew deep down it would work,” Gregory said by phone Monday. “When you have that much belief in something, it almost has to. It proves there’s more than one way to do it.”

Because of his unorthodox swing, and his unconventional approach, and his visibility on TV, DeChambeau has become an easy target. He’s only partly responsible. For the past three years, the brainy 23-year-old has fascinated local and national reporters, and so each time they ask him what he believes, and why he plays the game this way, he answers openly and honestly and authoritatively, speaking in the language – science – that is most comfortable.

Unlike many of his contemporaries who are just trying to find their footing in pro golf, DeChambeau isn’t afraid to dream big – “There’s an easier way out there, and people just haven’t figured it out yet” – and the attention he garners can lead to both skepticism and jealousy.

Every week, there’s another insult, another slight, another jab at his quirky methods. Just last week at the John Deere, someone in the crowd mocked him: “Go back and get your old clubs.” He says it doesn’t bother him. He says he’ll just remind himself that this is the road he has chosen, that it’s going to be the right move in the end. But almost no one on Tour endures this type of weekly abuse.

“He’s under a lot of pressure,” said Padraig Harrington, who has long bucked convention himself. “There’s no doubt when you do something different, everybody’s watching. I won’t say they’re hoping you fail, but they’re certainly watching and putting pressure and expectation on somebody who’s out there changing things or changing the game. So clearly he’s dealt with that for a long period of time, and it must make you very self-confident. That’s the biggest key to being a good player.”

Even DeChambeau had his doubts. Of course he did. That’s the downside of a trial-and-error approach – not every swing thought or putting stroke works. This spring, while experimenting with a longer backswing to hit the ball farther, DeChambeau missed seven consecutive cuts. “I was trying to understand my swing a little more,” he said, “and was messing around with some things.” But there were consequences to all of that tinkering. Just a month ago, he sat at No. 141 in the FedExCup standings, in danger of being sent back to the minors.

“It would have been easy to say, Do I belong? Can I make it out here?” Gregory said. “But he has the ultimate conviction in his game.”

Once DeChambeau went back to the swing that performed so well in college, the one that propelled him to become just the fifth player to sweep the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles in the same year, he has been on an upward trajectory, with three consecutive top-20s. Even when DeChambeau’s straight-armed, one-plane swing gets off-kilter, he believes that he has one of the most repeatable actions on Tour. “There aren’t many moving parts,” he said. Last week, he hit every fairway in Round 1. He hit all but one green with his 7-iron-length irons in the final round. But his ball-striking isn’t the biggest difference-maker.

“Your technique makes very little difference to how you play golf,” Harrington said. “Your technique defines what your potential is. Your mental game defines what use you make of it. I don’t see anything better about his technique or worse than anybody else. But I’m saying that because he’s different technically, he must be strong mentally. And that’s the biggest bonus of being different.”

In the summer of 2015, when DeChambeau was at the height of his powers, a prominent college coach told me: “In five years, Bryson will either be No. 1 in the world or in a straitjacket.” The former scenario is probably unlikely, considering the depth at the top of the rankings. But the latter won’t happen either, not after he proved that His Way is good enough to win in just his 35th pro start on Tour.

“I think this will give him that inner peace,” Gregory said, “and I think this will do a lot for his reputation as a player and as a person. It will give him the confidence that he belongs, but I’ve always told my players that I want them to be inwardly cocky and outwardly humble. Sometimes it’s been the opposite with him. He wants so badly to prove somebody wrong and validate that this can work that it eats at him. It can rub people the wrong way, but he just wants to win so badly.”

And now he has, in spectacular fashion. It’s time to dream even bigger.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

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Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.