Matthew Fitzpatrick called on golf’s governing bodies to crack down on distance gains after watching Bryson DeChambeau’s transformation into one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour.
Fitzpatrick, who shares the halfway lead at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, said he was still paying attention to how DeChambeau was playing this week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where the newly minted U.S. Open champion putted for eagle five times en route to a bogey-free 62 to take the early lead.
“I just looked at Shot Tracker (Thursday), some of the places he hit it and how he’s cutting corners,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “When he’s on, there’s no point. It doesn’t matter if I play my best; he’s going to be 50 yards in front of me off the tee. The only thing I can compete with him is putting. Which is just ridiculous.”
Fitzpatrick missed the cut by a stroke at Winged Foot but said he “drove it brilliantly” at a place where the fairways were “tight as hell.” “I actually played pretty well,” he said, “and I’m miles behind.”
“He’s in the rough and miles up, and he’s just hitting wedges everywhere,” he added. “It just makes a bit of a mockery of the game, I think.”
Ranked 121st on the PGA Tour last season in driving distance, averaging 294.7 yards off the tee, Fitzpatrick is aware that he needs to be sharp in other areas to contend against the game's biggest hitters. But he still believes that the governing bodies need to curtail the distance gains, as they have vowed to do with the release of the Distance Insights Report.
“I really hope they do,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “It’s not a skill to hit the ball a long way, in my opinion. I could put on 40 pounds. I could go and see a bio-mechanist and I could gain 40 yards; that’s actually a fact. I could put another two inches on my driver. I could gain that, but the skill in my opinion is to hit the ball straight. That’s the skill. He’s just taking the skill out of it, in my opinion. I’m sure lots will disagree. It’s just daft.
“I don’t necessarily think people will try and copy him, putting all that weight on, but I think you’ll see people going harder at it.”