But it wasn’t the best career run in terms of distance compared to the physically transformed and bulky American golfer. It was a broken club.
So what exactly happened to the club DeChambeau calls “The Kraken” on day one at TPC Harding Park on Thursday?
Just seconds after crushing an ultimately wandering workout at the seventh hole with his now super-fast swing, DeChambeau – who had racked up an additional 40 pounds of muscle during the Covid-19 golf stoppage – stepped forward to pick up his tee.
But that’s where things started to fall apart. Literally.
The 26-year-old – who has never finished in the top 10 in a major – then apparently leaned over his driver to such an extent that the club’s head fell off the handle, much to his partners’ surprise. of game, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott.
The world No.7 – who finished his first lap three times behind co-leader and 2015 champion Jason Day and tied with four-time winner Woods – later revealed the pilot had become a well-worn tool in his bag .
“This material won’t last forever,” he explained after finishing with a score of two under 68.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you do it, but this thing has lasted over a year, swinging it at ball speeds of over 200 miles an hour. I’d say it’s done pretty well.”
Meanwhile, the 2013 Masters winner Scott was at the forefront of the chain of surreal events.
“It really made a funny noise and the bullet had a funny flight and then he barely leaned on it and the shaft broke. He says it happens when you swing as hard as him.”
But things could have been much worse for DeChambeau.
He will have been extremely relieved to learn that under local rules introduced last year he was allowed to replace what is now his most powerful golf weapon – he’s the PGA Tour’s biggest hitter, with an average distance of 324.4 yards – because his crash was entirely accidental.
This still meant that a team member had to drive to DeChambeau’s car to get a replacement shaft for his club, as he himself completed the hole while having to do his own repair work just to hand it over. the new tree in motion.
But the imposed change did not bother him too much. The next time he needed his driver it was on the ninth hole, which he birdied.
In fact, DeChambeau responded superbly to adversity, averaging the ball nearly 20 yards further after his club broke, averaging just under 340 yards.
The Californian – who recently won his sixth PGA Tour title in Detroit at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where his drives averaged over 350 yards, a record – says he even tested the substitute in preparation. of the tournament, revealing he “knew it was going to work.”
“To be able to put another well back and make this thing work in an amazing way, it shows how amazing this business is.”
A return to form?
After spending five months away from golf due to a back injury and the pandemic, Woods returned to competition last month, placing 40th in the memorial tournament.
But he fared better in his first round in the first major of the year, as he was back on familiar ground at TPC Harding Park after playing there as a junior and at Stanford University.
He finished with a two under 68, his lowest opening round in a major since 2012.
The 44-year-old is chasing a fifth PGA Championship title, tying a record with Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus winning five apiece. He’s also on the hunt for an 83rd PGA Tour win, as he’s currently tied with Sam Snead for most of all time.
One of the most noticeable changes Woods made to his game was that he switched to a longer putter, which relieved his back.
And the change showed positive signs on Thursday, as he putted 114-foot-9, his season-high for a round.
“I’ve been playing with this putter for over a year,” said the 15-time winner. “It is sometimes difficult for me to bend over, so by practicing putting, I don’t spend the hours that I did before.
“It wasn’t unusual for me to spend four, five, six hours putting on, a day. I certainly can’t record that with my fused back. Most of the Champions Tour guys went to longer putters like they did. aged, because it’s easier to bend or not to bend. And so this putter is just a little longer and I was able to spend a little more time putting it on. “
Brooks Koepka, chasing a third straight PGA Championship title, is one shot behind co-leaders Australian Day and Brendon Todd.