DUBLIN, Ohio – Like everyone else, Tiger Woods has gotten caught up these past few weeks watching Bryson DeChambeau, the human driving machine who has packed on 40 pounds of muscle and morphed into the longest hitter on the PGA Tour. Two weeks ago, DeChambeau powered his way to victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where he overwhelmed a classic course and became the first player to win with a 350-yard-plus driving average.
“He’s gotten stronger, faster, bigger and has created more speed. He’s hitting it further, but let’s look at the fact that he’s hitting it as straight as he is,” said Woods, who is making his first Tour start in five months this week at the Memorial Tournament. “That’s the part that’s the most difficult thing to do. The farther you hit it, the more the tangent goes more crooked. So the fact that he’s figured that out and has been able to rein in the foul balls, to me, has been equally as impressive as his gains off the tee distance-wise.”
Though DeChambeau won’t soon be confused for Fred Funk, he’s hitting a respectable percentage of fairways – between 58 and 67 percent, which largely puts him in the middle of the pack among those who make the cut. And then when he played a favorable venue like Detroit Golf Club, which had minimal rough, DeChambeau could let it rip without severe repercussions.
Still, his rare combination of power and accuracy has turned heads. After hitting balls next to him at the Travelers Championship, Justin Thomas said, “Honestly it was frustrating, because he’s hitting it 350 in the air and you could put a blanket over about half of them.”
Even if DeChambeau’s intense workouts and protein-infused diet are responsible for his rapidly changing physique, he’s still put in the time on the range to maximize his new gifts.
“He’s figured out a way to increase distance and maximize his efficiency,” Woods said. “If I look back at when I first started playing the Tour, we didn’t have TrackMans; we didn’t have launch monitors. Guys were learning how to bend clubs on their knee to try and take loft off of it. That’s now changed.
“You have all these different launch-monitor technologies and you can set up a whole bunch of balls, figure out the shafts and the conditions that you want to maximize carry. What Bryson has done is no easy task. He’s got to put in the time and has put in the reps, and he’s figured it out.”