There was so much hype surrounding Bryson DeChambeau ahead of last year’s Masters, that the big-hitting American simply seemed destined to under-perform. A disappointing four days saw a frustrated DeChambeau finish tied for 34th, in stark contrast to the ruthless performance he put in to win the US Open two months previous.
This year, as the 2021 Masters returns to the tournament’s usual spring-time slot, it’s fair to say there are fewer headlines and less pressure for DeChambeau as the first major of the year approaches. His recent win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational means the he heads to Augusta as the second favourite in the US Masters betting, but there isn’t nearly as much expectation for the 27-year-old as there was back in November.
It’s fair to say that DeChambeau needs to post a good result in the tournament to prove that his game is up to the task of winning at the golfing mecca that is Augusta National. The man nicknamed ‘The Scientist’ for his constant efforts to tinker with his game is unapologetic over his hard-hitting style, which relies on powerful driving to bully the golf course into submission. Many frown upon his tactics as they believe it goes against the spirit of the sport, but DeChambeau feels no guilt over a style which has brought him plenty of success.
Now, his quest continues, and winning the Masters is undoubtedly high on DeChambeau’s list of priorities. He perhaps let the pressure get to him back in November, as a wild opening round set the tone for what would be a supporting role in Dustin Johnson’s impeccable success, and you can bet that DeChambeau will want all eyes on him this time around.
However, what goes against the American is his record at the Masters. In four appearances at Augusta, he has finished inside the top 25 only once, when he finished as the low amateur on his debut in 2016. But the fact the DeChambeau has not yet cracked the top 20 at Augusta suggests there is something about the Georgia golf course that The Scientist can’t quite wrap his head around.
For many golfers, that kind of record might be an off-putting factor, or a reason to go into the tournament with little confidence. But DeChambeau is the kind of golfer who relishes a challenge, and in many ways the prospect of figuring out how to conquer Augusta will excite him just as much as if he were to actually win it. There are few golfers like him, and the task facing the 27-year-old is to use that uniqueness to his advantage.
He’ll face stiff competition, of course. Johnson will be determined to back up his November triumph with another strong performance at Augusta, while Justin Thomas will be keen to continue his good form after winning the recent Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Jon Rahm is always there or thereabouts as he seeks his maiden major title, while the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy can’t be discounted.
DeChambeau won’t be too worried about any of his opponents. He is a player so absorbed in his own game, of finding ways to win that no-one else would possibly think of, that when it all clicks together, he is virtually unstoppable. We’ll find out on April 11th if he’s cracked the code to winning the Masters at last.