PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Bryson DeChambeau didn’t get the chance to use his power advantage on TPC Sawgrass’ 18th hole, but he was still able to flex on Day 1 at The Players Championship.
DeChambeau birdied two of his last three holes for a first-round 69 that was four strokes off the lead, and given the Stadium Course’s ability to dictate a dialed-down style of play he was exactly where he wanted to be.
“The golf course is always telling me each and every day what I need to do to get it close to the hole or in the fairway. It really dictates what we do. I listen a lot to the golf course,” DeChambeau said. “It's funny, if I say that, people think it's just stats, stats and statistics, but it's really a game-time decision with the wind for the most part, most of the time.”
Although DeChambeau, who overpowered Bay Hill last week for his eighth PGA Tour victory, said he hit driver on half the holes he played on Day 1 none of those were what he would consider 100-percent swings. Even on the par-5 16th hole, he reigned in his power with a water hazard looming.
The 18th hole was probably the best example of DeChambeau’s restraint. Although he’d hinted at driving down the adjacent ninth fairway, that option was taken out of his hands when Tour officials declared internal out-of-bounds. Instead, he hit 4-iron (258 yards) into the proper fairway, followed by an 8-iron to 42 feet for a two-putt par.
As for the Tour’s decision to remove the option of going down the ninth fairway off the 18th tee, DeChambeau said he learned his lesson.
“I understand it. I probably shouldn't have said anything. Knowing that now ... I won't ever say any lines that I'm taking anymore, but that's OK,” he said. “I've got no issues with it. I understand why, from a safety precaution reason, totally get it. But I'm going to keep myself a little quiet next time for lines that I'm going to try to obtain.”