The praise for Bryson DeChambeau flowed freely in the wake of his dominant six-stroke US Open victory at Winged Foot, supporters and critics alike recognising his unorthodox methods resulted in his title.
But the praise is not without some eyebrow raising.
After finishing up at Winged Foot 12 shots behind DeChambeau in a tie for eighth, Rory McIlroy was asked what his reaction would be if he had been told ahead of the championship that the winner would hit just four of his last 21 fairways. The four-time Major champion took the moment to offer a direct and indirect answer.
“No chance. No chance,” McIlroy said. “I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a US Open champion does. Look, he’s found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know, but it’s just – it’s not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It’s kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”
When the PGA Tour reason restarted in June, McIlroy was paired with DeChambeau at the Charles Schwab Challenge, getting to see first-hand how his weight gain had translated into increased swing speed and distance. At that time McIlroy acknowledged the difference was obvious.
“He hit a couple drives on Sunday that Harry and I just looked at each other, and we’re like, Holy s*&*, that was unbelievable.”
McIlroy, however, stopped short of saying it was something he would consider trying, noting that he felt his best when he was lighter.
Yesterday, McIlroy acknowledged DeChambeau’s ingenuity.
“I thought I can see it for week in and week out, PGA Tour setups that are a little more benign… but I sort of said, ‘OK, wait until he gets to a proper golf course, he’ll have to rein it back in.’ This is as proper as they come, and look what’s happened. Yeah, he’s got full belief in what he’s doing, and it’s pretty impressive.”
Impressed, yes. But not without some caveats.
“So I think… about the guy, I think it’s brilliant, but I think he’s taken advantage of where the game is at the minute,” McIlroy said. “Look, again, whether that’s good or bad, but it’s just the way it is. With the way he approaches it, with the arm-lock putting, with everything, it’s just where the game’s at right now.
“I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. He’s just taking advantage of what we have right now.”